Heavy guitars, driving melodies combined with an interplay between growled male and clean, ethereal female vocals fill the debut album from Swiss progressive goth metal band Askara .
Askara traces their roots back to 2012 in Basel, Switzerland when Myriam Schmidt (Vocals/Piano), Benjamin Wiesli (Guitar/Vocals), Elia Schmidt (Bass/Vocals) and Raphael Gruenig (Drums) formed the band. The band first gained notoriety in 2013 when one of their earlier songs was released on the compilation Heavy Metal Nation IX on Quam Libet Records, a song that also featured former member Matthias Rohrer. Since that time, the band has been working on the tracks for Horizon of Hope, which was recorded and mixed by Markus Hospenthal at KHE Recording Studio and mastered by Dan Suter at Echochamber for an October 2016 release.
As with any band playing this style of music, comparisons to bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Evanescence are inevitable, so I’ll just get those mentions out of the way. My ears do actually pick up a good bit of similarity in vocals between Amy Lee of Evanescence and Myriam Schmidt of Askara, not only in overall tone but also in more subtle areas like approach and phrasing and transitions between quiet and forceful. Musically, Askara is solid and in keeping with the goth metal style, piano and keyboards to play a prominent role in the overall sound, adding to the atmosphere, ever present and discernible, but not dominant in the mix, which gets me to the production which is very clean and works well with this style. Guitars and drums are dominant in the mix when they need to be but in the quieter moments, the keyboards and piano come to the forefront and the vocals are never lost in either setting. As for the vocals, there are the clean female vocals which are really work incredibly well as Myriam Schmidt has not only great talent but also a great sense of how to use that talent. The male vocals, which are sometimes clean, sometimes growled, really seem out of place at times and are not up to par with the female vocals. Continue reading »