"Avenger" (EMA Records)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

ASKA's "Avenger" is a '90s update of '80s-styled metal combining the best of British power metal in the NWOBHM style along with some U.S. power metal touches. "Avenger" is ASKA's fourth CD and I find it hard to believe this band slipped under my radar for so long. "Avenger" apparently strips away any hard rock influences the band had in previous releases and simply sticks to metal this time around.

To my ears ASKA sound like Jag Panzer and Queensryche mixed with Iron Maiden and Saxon. What do those four bands have in common? Dual guitar attacks and distinctive vocalists. And that's what ASKA provide in "Avenger" and its eleven tracks. Yeah, there might not be anything ground-breaking with "Avenger," but sometimes metalheads just want to listen to cool riffs and songs with a sci-fi concept. It's tough to find albums that even pay an iota's worth of thought in the lyrics and there is no skimping on the lyrics on "Avenger."

Mentioning Jag Panzer, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, and Saxon is quite intentional as you can't mistake the influence of those four bands on what the ultimate output of ASKA is. From the galloping riffs of "Imperial Rome" to the aggressive pinning of "Leather" you can't but help to like ASKA's traditional approach to heavy metal. "Avenger" actually has bass lines that you can hear and that can carry the tune along with the guitar riffs. 

In addition to the previously mentioned lyrical concept, the vocals are clean and anthem-like throughout. I'll admit that I've gotten so used to the 'growling' vocal style that to hear honest-to-goodness melodic vocals was a bit of a switch, but also much like a return to a comfortable area of my metal background.

ASKA's "Avenger" is good old-fashioned metal. If you're in the mood for old-fashioned metal you really can't go wrong with "Avenger." Fans of any of the bands mentioned in the review as well as bands like Iced Earth, Hammerfall, Dio, Manowar, Virgin Steele, or Gamma Ray would certainly appreciate "Avenger." ASKA shouldn't be in the underground for too long.

"Avenger" was produced by Darren Knapp. The production is well-above average; everything is crystal clear and the production only adds to the CD rather than detract from the presentation which often happens.

ASKA is George Call on lead vocals and guitars, Darren Knapp on guitars and vocals, Keith Knight on bass and vocals, and Jason Sweatt on drums. ASKA hail from Dallas and it's the last place I'd imagine hearing well-crafted American power metal.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2023 21:56:12 -0400.