November 4, 2023

Asmodean is a progressive hard rock band formed in England, now based in Norway. They’ve just released their debut album By a Thread, you could sum it up as being hard-hitting rock with big choruses and an interesting mix of styles, blending riffery, experimental arrangements and contemplative proggy lyrics in a style that yo-yos between Metal and space rock – and does it quite nicely!

Asmodean

With roots back to Black Sabbath, they claim their place somewhere between Mastodon and Ghost. The music dips into the style of bands like Opeth and Avenged Sevenfold, while the guitars tap into elements from Van Halen and Children of Bodom. So it’s a bit of a melting pot, in a spacey 1970’s way – a sort of journey to the Outer Limits?

The album opens with The Undoing, reminding me straight away of Avenged Sevenfold. It’s nicely done without breaking any boundaries, and once you accept the band is a little derivative, you can listen to it and enjoy it without expecting to be amazed by something startlingly new. It’s decent enough, competently blending metal with prog. The same goes for Below the Line, with what feels like the same range of metal chords? Decent enough vocals and chorus line though.

Defying Truth features a mix of clean vocals, and Hard Metal vocals including a touch of Scream, the whole underpinned with a fairly relentless set of metal chords. Scorned does something similar, metal riffs duelling with a mix of prog-led singing and more “out-there” vocals.

There’s hints of Sabbath next in I Won’t, a pacier vibe and sweet lead solo providing a distinct change of mood. Sanguine is perhaps the strongest song in the set, a more multi-layered Prog-oriented number as illustrated in the video below – it’s good! Mary Go Round is short and sweet, a timeless, gentle ballad kept very simple in the arrangement.

“Trapped In (a) Space”?!

Best Sold Disguise is a bit of a beast, following next, again feeling like a blend of prog imagery in the lyrics and layered vocals – the singer’s voice keeps reminding me of Big Country’s Stuart Adamson, bless ‘im. Cursed Kismet is another heavyweight metal number musically, again hints of Avenged Sevenfold in the duel between voice and guitar. Zooethics feels pretty much like a re-run of several of the earlier tracks and thats my only concern – like so many others out there, Asmodean need more light and shade in their arrangements – I think its the riffery that makes this most obvious?

The album closes with Jack o’ the Shadows, the first 20 seconds or so being a lift off the intro to the song Black Sabbath – before reverting to Metal type. It actually gets much better from there, changes in pace and mood introducing something that’s considerably more powerful and most of the others here – its eight minutes long and it’s great!

Recorded and mixed in Stjørdal by the bands bassist Ruben Krogstad, written, produced and played as a band. Mastered by Sivert Hagtvedt. Artworks by Mirkow Gastow

By A Thread is a thoroughly competent mix of metal, prog and spacey stuff, nearly always featuring what to me is a limited range in the guitars? – maybe that’s just me, it’s decent enough, as I said earlier it just needs more light and shade please to grab your attention.