There is a debate in the world of rock and heavy metal that seems to have been raging ever since the dawn of time. No, it’s not who’s better, Megadeth or Metallica or who is the ultimate metal god of all time (of course, we know the answer to that one is Rob Halford!) It’s whether women have a place in the rock and metal world.
Before I get lynched for making such a statement, this is NOT, and I emphasise this, NOT, my way of thinking. I believe women have just as much right to be in a rock or metal band as men do, hell some of the women are BETTER than the guys but, this being said, there are some people around that think women can’t do the job as well as blokes can.
Now, I admit I was never really a fan of female fronted bands. This had nothing whatsoever to do with their musical or singing abilities, I just preferred the sound of a guy at the helm. I didn’t really like the mix of operatic vocals with heavy metals riffs by bands such as Nightwish and Epica and as this was obviously my own preference, I am by no means saying they weren’t good bands, they just weren’t for me.
But since those days, the female vocals have evolved, becoming a lot more aggressive and powerful which is why coming across a band such as Ashes to Ashes was a delight.
Formed in Genoa, Italy in 2010 by Marta Vassollo (piano/vocals), Paolo Schiavi (lead guitars) and Paolo di Lorenzo (drums), the three of them were eventually joined by Enrico Cabona (second guitar) and Stefano Anentodio (bass) to complete the line up. The band signed to Wormholedeath Records in 2013, after the release of their first album “Borderline” and their second album “Urania” was released in 2016.
In September 2016, Marta decided to leave the band and she was replaced by Giulia Sarpero (ex-vocalist of Kramers). Within a month the band were back in the studio to re-record two of the most representative tracks on the album with new vocals giving the songs a whole new atmosphere.
Musically, Ashes to Ashes blend light with dark, heavy with acoustic and, as their promo notes states they “take female fronted metal to a new level with a mix of cleans and growls that is visionary.” There are touches of alternative metal with bits and pieces of post hardcore on one side and clean arpeggios on the other.
At the first listen this album might seem a bit lightweight to some people, the vocals a teeny bit weak. BUT, stick with it, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Track five “The Forgiveness Song” introduces some male growls along with the female gentler vocals, a mix that shouldn’t work but does and this trend carries on for the rest of the album.
And listening through for the second and third time, the vocals are not as feeble as first thought. This woman has a great voice and although it’s not as aggressive as some of the female singers around at the moment, it doesn’t mean it is inferior to them in any way! In fact, it shows that women do not have to compete with the guys to make their mark. A woman doesn’t have to grunt and growl to prove she has a powerful voice, nor does she have to veer in the opposite direction and take on the operatics of Tarja or Simone.
Throw into the mix some great guitar work and musicianship and you have the terrific band Ashes to Ashes. They may only be starting out with this current line up but with a few years under their belt they could be up there with the best of them. The band, themselves, consider their strength to be their “ambition to create a distinctive sound” and this ambition could take them places. But they have to be careful not to fall into the trap of changing their vocal sound to fit in with all the other female led bands. Their “distinctive sound” is already starting to show through and they need to nurture that and let it grow and flourish.
All in all, this is a solid album from start to finish and is just over 41 minutes of well written, well performed tracks, proving that years of hard work, promotion and effort have paid off. I haven’t heard the first album but I certainly hope to hear anything else these guys put out and follow them on their journey of self-discovery and progress.
4. Once Upon A Time
5. The Forgiveness Song
6. A Thousand Pieces
7. Birds In A Cage
8. Path In The Dark
9. Wallace Hartley
10. Mother Of Grace
11. Just Daydreaming
Enrico Cabona – Guitar
Paolo Di Lorenzo – Drums
Paolo Schiavi – Lead Guitar
Stefano Anentodio – Bass
Giulia Sarpero – Vocals
Originally posted on Ever Metal
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