I admit that I am new to the Canadian instrumental prog band AsZension and I was initially attracted to review this album through the PR wire because the album artwork looked amazing along with the title. It’s even better that the music fits both of those. AsZension play a nice blend of progressive rock, prog metal and ambient rock. Portals, being the band’s third full-length release, is a balance of old and new, and for that it deserves your attention.
The album opens with the keyboards-laden “Metamorphosis” with a very nice melody line that is soon developed with the piano passage, before the guitar riffs set it on the right path. The keyboard solo that comes over the mentioned riffs adds another layer of versatility that proves to be threaded throughout the album.
“Astral Projection” starts with a massive layer of synth effects over lumbering drums and riffs. It has a certain flow to it which makes you nod along.
“Spectral Dynasty, Pt. I – III” has a cool, spacey vibe to it at the beginning which sounds as a soundtrack through the cosmos. It is the longest piece on Portals, clocking at almost 13 minutes. The keyboards are the main instrument on the album, they dominate other instruments which actually serve as support for keyboardist Kevin Thiessen, who also plays guitars and some of percussion. “Portals” is another piece that starts off with an ambient soundscape, with more meditative vibe than the previous tracks. It’s cool how many of these tracks all segue into each other. There’s a natural flow to Portals as a whole.
AsZension aren’t reinventing anything on Portals but they aren’t trying to and they really don’t need to either. They clearly know what their sound is and execute it well.
Get Portals from Bandcamp here.