Norway and Scandinavia in general, within the metal community, is typically associated with heavy, dark, blistering, often black metal and out of that comes Aspiration. With a blend of melodic death, progressive and black metal elements, the band’s Babel ep should generate a good bit of attention.
As a self-described “progressive metal act” from Norway, Aspiration began back in 200 when the band members attended the same college and found a shared interest in music. The band existed in various forms until the lineup stabilized in 2004 and during the early years, they spent time recording a demo and some ep’s, playing shows and festivals. After 2004, the band members ended up scattered across Norway and the band was put on hold out of necessity, but in 2009 started working on new material. The final result is Babel which the band recorded, mixed and had mastered at JM Mastering in London.
As the ep starts, “Black Light,” sound to me a lot like a traditional black metal song. Blast beats, somewhat droning guitar riff, the near shrieking vocals, they’re all here, and very well done. Later, however, the song shifts a bit in tone and adds some melodic elements and deeper, growled vocals to go with a more death metal feel and tone. The quality of the production is perfect as is the mix and both combine well to showcase the musicianship in some of the quieter moments. Yes, there are quiet, peaceful moments within the song as well. Great song to introduce the band and their approach to songwriting. “A Stone and a Hill” continues much along the same lines, but is in itself a bit different and interesting in its own right.
The title track “Babel” goes in a slightly different direction from the very beginning, starting out with some acapella shrieking black metal vocals that lead into some fast melodic death/black metal powered by fast double bass drumming to speed things along. Progressive elements come along later as the song shifts gears a few times in terms of style and approach to the music. The arrangements of the songs is quite complex and yet at the same time seamless to the point where there can be a shift from a section of shrieking black metal to a quieter instrumental part driven by a bass guitar and then back to blast beat-driven black metal and nothing seems forced.
The slower, sometime sludgy, “Catharsis” and fast riff-dominated “Esoteric” serve to cement the band’s ability to write very different songs incorporating many different elements. For those who love black and death metal and possibly even those progressive metal fans, Babel is an ep worth picking up and Aspiration a band worth watching.
Written by John Jackson
01. Black Light
02. A Stone and a Hill
Stein Vorhaug – Bass
Cato Gulaker – Drums
Jon Ivar Larsen – Guitars
Joachim Sehl – Guitars
Audun Bay Gundersen – Vocals
Record Label: Independent, Oct. 2015
Video for ‘Babel’