ASHES OF ARES – Emperors And Fools

ASHES OF ARES - Emperors And Fools
  • 7.3/10
    ASHES OF ARES - Emperors And Fools - 7.3/10


Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records
Release date: January 21, 2022

User Review
9/10 (1 vote)

Bands – they come and go. There have been bands there like Motörhead there, that is, they went on for decades, with multiple lineup changes until their central figure kicked the bucket, and the rest is history. There are also bands there that announce their break-up just to reform a few years later like Mötley Crüe did. And last but not least, there are also such bands, such as KISS or Judas Priest like to announce their final tour just for the sake of making the process of kicking some members out go a bit smoother. Luckily Ace Frehley and K.K. Downing made it to prove that they don’t need to live off their former bands’ names and can still do their own thing. And it is not much different as far as Iced Earth goes. Neither Matt Barlow nor Tim Owens are in the band anymore. The latter joined the aforementioned K.K. Downing in order to help him prove how much of a mistake Judas Priest committed by getting rid of him. And as for Matt Barlow… he also decided to put up a new band. Along with a former Iced Earth bandmate Freddie Vidales and ex-Nevermore drummer Van Williams he founded a brand new project called Ashes of Ares. Their third record titled Emperors and Fools is something fans of Metal, not just Iced Earth, should totally get their hands on.

It sounds like Metal bands just try their best to be as heavy and powerful as it gets nowadays. That concerns Exodus in particular, but it sounds like Ashes of Ares like their Metal as heavy as it gets too. Emperors and Fools starts with an intro called “A City in Decay” that can easily bring any epic strategy game to mind… or even an opening theme to any sort of documentary on paranormal activity and other unsettling contents. It’s beautifully groovy, it is full of synths… but at the same time, it is also truly powerful and in no way cheesy. All modern Power Metal bands who like to overdo the synths – here’s how to get them done in one of the best ways possible! And shortly thereafter does the album start properly with the song “I Am The Night”. While the Metal power and crudeness are abound, feels as if the vocals were drowning in the mix, but at least the ear-pleasingly tight rhythm section can be heard better that way. Then comes the guitar solo which sounds a bit like woodwinds of some sort… but the overall Iced Earth kind of feel is there nonetheless.

Many things can be said about Emperors and Fools as well as some things that should never ever be said, and one of those things is being monotonous. The songs on this record is anything but repetitive. Some of them start off clean, just like the 4th track “Primed” (kudos for that bass!), while others are just about kicking it with the full force – see the following song “Where Gods Fear To Go” or “By My Blade” which is the number seven. Slayer wouldn’t have been embarrassed to have such powerful riffs in their repertoire for sure! What can leave a bit to be desired is the overall guitar sound which can bring some Nu Metal or Alternative Rock to mind. It’s not a major inconvenience, but fans of the 90s Iced Earth may be somewhat disappointed. In some songs, however, it works out really well, like in the 6th one being the title one. That song could be described as a heavily modified Metal version of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Isn’t it just beautiful how everything is connected, clearly not just in nature, but also in music.

Matt Barlow may no longer be in his 30s, but what matters is that he still knows how to hit some high notes. That can be heard in most of the songs off Emperors and Fools. The album is coming to an end and the track “Gone”, being the tenth one, is probably the best one on the album. The solos are beyond deep and it’s getting all dreamlike the nearer the end it gets. The final, twelfth song “Monster’s Lament” is almost 12 minute long and probably the biggest disappointment here. It is not bad, but still it feels kind of overloaded with everything, like the person responsible for writing it was trying to chuck as many notes as possible into it; that definitely kills the overall feel to some extent. But later on the eerie mysteriousness of the song makes up for the mistakes from the past.

It is beyond doubt that Emperors and Fools is a solid album that most Metal fans should appreciate. It’s particularly the fans of low frequencies who may dig half of the tracks straight away. It’s definitely good to see Matt Barlow do his thing and considering that the future of Iced Earth doesn’t look very bright in the wake of the early 2021 events… it may be still early to jump to conclusions, but perhaps Ashes of Ares can actually outdo Iced Earth, just like Cavalera Conspiracy did Sepultura (at least to some fans out there). Time will tell.


  • Miłosz Mikołaj Nizioł

    Miłosz is a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He was born somewhere in Europe and now lives elsewhere in Europe. Miłosz is a writer and it has always been his passion. Aside from that, Miłosz is also a bass player - back in his UK days he played in various bands, some of which made it to have their place in the history of Metal; this includes an English high speed Thrash Metal act Rager that got mentioned in Contract in Blood: A History Of UK Thrash Metal (Glasper, I., 2018).   When enjoying live music as a member of the audience, Milosz never says no to circle pits and a good wall of death. Besides Metal, Milosz has a very wide range of interests that don't need to be specified here since they're not about Metal. One of them can be, actually: Milosz LOVES coming up with parodies of various songs lyrics.   Milosz's Top 25 bands (in the following order) are: The Beatles Deep Purple & Black Sabbath Queen ]v[ E G A D E T ]-[ (until 24.05.2021, but still) Judas Priest Iron Maiden (first three albums mostly) Twisted Sister Mötley Crüe KISS (preferably with Ace and Peter) Exodus Overkill Pantera Rainbow (and DIO of course) Savatage Running Wild Testament Pink Floyd ABBA Red Hot Chili Peppers Death Dire Straits Alestorm Motörhead

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