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Aspera / Above Symmetry - Ripples CD (album) cover

RIPPLES

Aspera / Above Symmetry

 

Progressive Metal

3.63 | 94 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Ripples' - Above Symmetry (6/10)

Originally releasing this album under the band title Aspera, the recently renamed Above Symmetry have re-released their debut album 'Ripples' taking the new developments into effect. While I cannot reckon that the band has fans devoted enough to pick up a re-release of a new band's album that only first came out in 2010 anyways, it has revived some interest in this band, a progressive melodic metal band from Norway. Above Symmetry is a band that falls into an all-too familiar trap for metal of the so-called proggy variety. While being incredibly talented and polished as an act, Above Symmetry's total lack of originality to their sound lead them to falling amidst a legion of countless other bands that try to emulate the glory brought up by veterans like Dream Theater or Symphony X. Sadly, this formula has been done to death by the aforementioned innovators, and the clones that have followed over the years. While Above Symmetry have a firm grasp on songwriting and performance here and 'Ripples' is a good album by all accounts, they do need to bring something a little more unique to the table before they make anything excellent.

From the rather promising yet painfully familiar 'Intro' onwards, Above Symmetry make no effort to hide the fact that they are a tribute to other acts, rather than something new unto themselves. This is something of a shame, because in the scope of everything the band offers, the lack of original sound holds back their otherwise strong songwriting and powerful presentation. Above Symmetry, or Aspera are a metal band that is based in a heavy focus on melodies, with vocal lines bringing quickly to mind some of the better AOR bands that are out there. The instrumentation here is either used to back up the course of the song, or to craft typical prog metal segments. As one could expect from what this review has not-so- subtly stating, these two aspects of Above Symmetry's music are both incredibly well done, but- once again- very unoriginal. Especially in the instrumental sections, the band really sounds like Symphony X, which may be a good thing for some listeners, but for me, it feels like for all of Above Symmetry's obvious talents as musicians, it would have gone such a long way to hear them do something a little more distinct, as opposed to making use of the tricks that other bands worked out a decade or two earlier.

The songs keep the prog metal sound going strong, but these songs are all structured fairly conventionally, which helps the strong and sometimes even catchy melodies of the band to shine through. The singer here fits in perfectly with the 'skilled, yet lacking unique identity' vibe that Above Symmetry give, and with some of the high notes he is able to hit, I could easily see him leading the band through even stronger melodies in the future. Really, Above Symmetry could go one or two ways, from the way I see them. They could either go down the route that 'Ripples' suggests they will, continue to develop their straightforward melodic prog metal sound, and improve what they're doing already. On the other hand, they could go ahead and find something to add to their sound to make them stand out from the others. Either way, I am sure that Above Symmetry will do even better things, even if 'Ripples' has not been the most exciting listen. Very good, even great melodic metal tribute music here, but somewhat forgettable as a result.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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