Aspera is a young, each member 20 years old, progressive metal band from Norway. Yet, with one listen to their debut work, Ripples, their youthfulness betrays an uncommon musical maturity. Exploring and advancing all the complexities of their heroes like Pain Of Salvation, Pagan's Mind (Nils K. Rue appears on background vocals), Symphony X, Dream Theater, Evergrey or Soilwork, Aspera drops a stone in the prog waters and they ripple with genuine ingenuity and intrigue. Ripples must be considered as one of the first contenders for the best prog metal album of 2010.
From first to last, Ripples is engaging; there is not a wasted note or moment in these diverse arrangements. Of first notice is the compelling vocals and vocal arrangements throughout. Alte Pettersen is both strong and versatile as he leaps and soars through memorable performances on Remorse and Traces Inside. In Pettersen, the vocal arrangements give Aspera a true heavy metal authority and a lacquer of melodic refinement. From here it only gets better as Aspera develops efficient and engaging movements of guitar and keyboards, which often compliment one another before stretching into solos: Between Black & White and Torn Apart are noteworthy. Nickolas Main Henriksen mimics a little old school Hammond organ to clever effect on the former and Ripples.
Overall, however, its the arrangements that are quite compelling as Aspera deftly blends all their skills and influences into ingenious, never dull, compositions. While nods to traditional prog or power come into earshot, I notes of 70's prog like Ambrosia and fundamental rock and roll are found on Between Black & White. Still, Ripples is not without the bombastic moments when Aspera, on Catatonic Coma, crashes the heaviness of metal into the pleasure of melody. Indeed, Aspera's Ripples is a whirlwind of progressive metal creativity and enjoyment that will blow up any current mundane expressions. Aspera deserves to be counted among the best of their peers. Very recommended!
Aspera's Ripples is a whirlwind of progressive metal creativity and enjoyment that will blow up any current mundane expressions. Aspera deserves to be counted among the best of their peers.