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Ashtar - Urantia  CD (album) cover

URANTIA

Ashtar

 

Prog Folk

3.51 | 13 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

CCVP
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Folk music, progressive rock and some extreme metal here and there

Ashtar's Urantia is one of those albums you would never pick up and give it a chance if you were to buy it in a regular CD store. In the first place, the cover is just so bad, cheesy and generic that it would not be able to incite the curiosity of anybody to find out what's behind it. In the second place, the band's pictures on the CD tray and inside the booklet don't help with their visual appeal at all. In the third place, if you put together the cover, the band's pictures and the tracklist on the back, the first thing that may come to your mind is that they are one of those generic metal bands out there and then put their album back on the store's CD shelf.

Luckly, in my case, that was not the case. I bought over the internet and, although I was pretty skeptical when I unboxed it, listening to Ashtar's first and only album, Urantia, made me leave behind any doubt I had about the quality of their music. What the band present here is a quite original mix of folk music, progressive rock and extreme metal. The folky progressive rock dominates much of the album environment, but whenever the metal part kicks in it really takes the spotlight right away. That usually when Luís Garcia puts out a stronger vocal part or when some heavy riffs appear, in contrast to the usual acustic guitar or normal electric gitars.

One important thing to point out here is that the folk part of this band's music does not reflect the place were they come from at all. Hailing from the state of Rio de Janeiro, Ashtar had the possibility to go explore the vast array of the country's diverse musical culture and deliver an album that is differs themselvesfrom the vast array folk rock artists who choose to use English or Irish folk music as the source of their inspiration in the USA and other countries. Instead, they chose to do like the latter and be just another person in the crowd. Not that Urantia is a bad album, it's core is simply not different enough, though the metal parts do cover most of that lacking originality concerning the folk parts.

The vocals here are, for the most part, pretty decent. Fernanda has a very good and fitting voice for the genre and uses it the way she should: her clear, calm and somewhat ethereal vocals dominate most of the album's songs, since some are instrumental. Speaking of which, the instrumental section isn't bad at all. Exceptiong one part in the middle of the song Oblivion Scars, where both guitarrists clearly overestimated their playing fast / shredding abilities, most of the instrumental playing is top notch.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Ashtar's Urantia was (again) quite a surprise for me. Their interesting mix of folkish progressive rock and heavy metal really impressed me. Almost everything fits perfectly in their places and despite some flaws (like the guitars in Oblivious Scars and the complete lack of any Brazilian reference in their music), the album is a very interesting journey, which is helped by the description of what inspired each song or what said song trying to portrait right below its name in the booklet.

For all that, I think that 4 stars is more than a fitting grade.

CCVP | 4/5 |

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