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The Inner Road

Symphonic Prog

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The Inner Road Ascension album cover
3.81 | 107 ratings | 10 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ascension (7:00)
2. The Steel Sky (6:10)
3. Two Worlds Two Tomorrows (8:35)
4. Altered Reality (7:58)
5. Troubled Memories (7:39)
6. A Fleeting Dream (6:18)
7. The Awakening (6:35)
8. Flight Through Eternity (10:17)

Total Time: 60:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Gresswell / keyboards, co-producer

- Jay Parmar / guitars, sitar

Releases information

Artwork: Bruce Rolff

CD Orbital Productions ‎- ORBCD0012013 (2013, UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE INNER ROAD Ascension ratings distribution

(107 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE INNER ROAD Ascension reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Ascension" is The Inner Road's second album, coming quite rapidly on the heels of 2011's remarkable "Visions", an instrumental symphonic masterpiece that garnered rave reviews worldwide, yours truly included, in total rapture. As is always the case with momentous albums, how do you get it done again without falling into repetitive formula yet still keeping the creative spirit alive and well? On this stunning sophomore release, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Steve Gresswell has joined up with guitarist Jay Parmar, whose style differs greatly from previous fret colleague Phil Braithwaite's more Latimer-esque elegance, preferring a distinctly obvious oriental style, infused with dazzling harder sizzles recalling axe maestros Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. As much as Visions was way more pastoral, almost Anthony Phillips ?like, this new album is positively bursting at the seams with razor sharp , sledgehammer riffs that have a palpable Andalucian feel, the Moorish tinges are frequent and ultimately very satisfying. A new direction with even more accomplished symphonics is a laudable adventure and rewards the demanding audiophile with unlimited bliss. While preferring real drums to the programmed variety, it must be said that the mechanical beat box is well crafted and does not diminish in any way the eloquent music being presented.

The title track wastes little time in beginning the climb , as it has that seductive combination of grandiose and bombastic, loaded with huge instrumentation showcasing Gresswell's arranging talents, as well as providing some sensational piano and synthesizer work. Parmar is unafraid to rock hard and fast, choirs ablaze in the background. There is a definite celestial quality that fits the "Ascension" theme perfectly, a potent feeling of delightful exploration. "The Steel Sky" as the title implies has a dual tinge of harsh and delicate, a beauty and the beast syndrome that is ultimately a hallmark idiosyncrasy of classic progressive design. Bulldozer riffs, slippery synths, rollicking bass and swerving, screeching melodies. The whole bullied by some steamroller double bass drum programming in order to keep the pot boiling. "Two Worlds, Two Tomorrows" throws in some backing mellotron samples, a direct main melody that scours the soul , giving Parmar a solo spotlight to demonstrate his considerable skills, whilst bathed by Gresswell's glittering arrangement complete with soft synth lines and a breezy little section that gives even more room for reflection. "Altered Reality" has a distinctive bluesy feel, as Jay explodes over the symphonic arrangement laid down by Steve's lush orchestrations with a rowdy and exuberant growl that will please axe fiends of every persuasion. The programmed drumming is as expert as on Visions, never sounding too mechanical but the real clincher is the use of a brief massive choir work imbued with Oldfieldian grace and elegance. This is the definition of "beautiful", yet bold, passionate and offering up crisp contrasts to keep the listener on edge, palpitating! "Troubled Memories" continues in the same magnificent vein, bristling notes amid a sizzling mood, the exotic lead guitar line carving out a dreamy cycle of sound, pushed along by some mighty bass pummeling, drums akimbo and synths curtaining the stage. There is a slight feeling of dread, anguish and despair that is utterly palpable, showing the musicians predilection for emotive expression. It's not just overt "chopzilla" but songs with moody depth. I admit being a total sucker for this kind of instrumental genius and I do kneel at the shrine! "A Fleeting Dream" further consolidates the wealth of sounds displayed on the album, abounding in trembling fret distortion that tickles the senses, the instrumental prowess is truly remarkable. While technically demanding, the guitar soloing displays a spirit of continued adventurism that keeps the listener with bated breath, never quite knowing where the next flurry of notes will travel to. Parmar squeezes out all kinds of cat meows and rivet- popping phrasings from his emboldened instrument. The tremendous "The Awakening" has a slight electronica feel, pinging synths and ponging guitar phrasings both with undisputed authority, bathed in a complex swath of sound, a delicious tinge of dissonance giving the piece an organic feel. Those subtle choir-like effects only add drama and arousal to the mix, suave little details that makes the music breathe and exalt. The final section reverts to the mechanical synthesizer monolith and provides the platform for some juicier soloing, Parmar torturing his instrument with delirious glee. Fabulous track! The epic 10 minute+ "Flight through Eternity" ends this marvel with even more daring, as Parmar provides some unexpected sitar-like allusions amid his axe ramble, a quirky little detail that only serves to highlight the creativity behind the band's philosophy. The lengthy guitar solo is sensational, a bluesy performance that is ultra-cool, not only technically dazzling but also emotionally adept at pushing those hard to reach buttons.

Just like the preceding 'Visions', The Inner Road have crafted another memorable progressive avenue of instrumental splendor, full of playful exploits and dreamy atmospherics. This time the mood was more animalistic and impulsive, creatively aggressive and sonically impressive. I cannot fathom anyone not being impressed with this dream work, I daresay even our prog-metalloid cousins would enjoy this immensely and intensely. Certainly Symph fans but also guitar fan boys will rise to the applause! Of course, the artwork is spectacular once again, offering up a prog collector's fantasy of audio and visual art forms.

5 Elevators

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK project THE INNER ROAD is the creative vehicle of Steve Gresswell for music not suited to his band Coalition. Collaborating with Phil Braithwaite the first album released as The Inner Road saw the light of day in 2011. Come 2013 and Gresswell has now linked up with Jay Parmar for the second disc "Ascension".

Instrumental symphonic progressive rock was the description best suited to the first album by The Inner Road, and it's one that with some reservations can be applied to the second one as well. The reservations in question are due to the somewhat expanded musical canvas employed on "Ascension", one that may not suit everyone with an interest in the symphonic branch of the progressive rock universe. The fact of the matter is that this disc might just as well be marketed towards a very different audience, namely those with an interest and fascination for instrumental guitar dominated music. "Ascension" is an album where both of these rather different descriptions can be applied, and both of them just as right or wrong as the other.

The guitar is the dominating instrument in this case however. Rarely as a standalone, dominant instrument mind you, but more often than not the most dominant in the arrangements. More or less alternating between a few fixed types of delivery for soloing purposes: Technical and intense in a manner that reminds me ever so slightly of Tony MacAlpine, melodic and elegant in a manner that invites associations towards the likes of Joe Satriani, dream-laden and atmospheric in a way that fans of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd will recognize. The rhythm guitar part of this setup is mostly riff based with dark contrasting tones at that, with a few acoustic guitar tidbits appearing now and then.

The symphonic rock aspect of this creation tends to stick to a fairly pompous and majestic one. Richly layered, with room for both organ and Mellotron, the latter a likely suspect for some neat voice effects applied here and there. Occasional dramatic surges appear, but also movements for a gentler, fragile nature appear on occasion as suitably placed contrasting elements that also expands the amount of variation. Unless I'm much mistaken, the symphonic arrangements on this disc are just as much directly inspired by classical symphonic music as by symphonic progressive rock as such, at least it's that kind of grandiose associations these arrangements inspire when I try to analyze them from my very distinctly layman point of view.

The compositions alternates between different arrangements, pace and intensity the main variations applied and often with room for an insert or two of a gentler nature as previously described. The majority of movements are guitar dominated, with the symphonic constructions as a subtle or insistent backdrop. These alternate with somewhat less elongated runs sporting symphonic oriented keyboard constellations with or without a dominant keyboard sol, a few times with a guitar solo as a supplemental, harmonizing texture of a subservient nature. Which makes for an album of positive moods and atmospheres, with a majestic pompous overall atmosphere many who enjoy symphonic progressive rock will enjoy immensely.

As far as recommending a plausible key audience for this latest production by The Inner Road, a taste for guitar dominated productions and symphonic progressive rock both is needed, and a certain affection for classical symphonic music wouldn't be amiss either I guess. Those who recognize themselves in such a description should find this album to be a fairly safe investment.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars The Inner Road second album released this year 2013 named Ascension is a good one, but to me is less intresting then their previous work. Besides head of the band the multi instrumentalist Steve Gresswell, here we have a new memeber Jay paramar responsable for guitar duties.

Well, exactly this new entry in bands sounds make me say that this Ascension is less intresting then first album. While Phil Braithwaite had a smooth elegant manner of playing with many memorable parts, this Jay Paramar while is of course a good guitarist little fail to impress me here, I mean almost every solos and guitar parts sounds the same on every piece and he has a more Steve Vai orientation then previous guitarist who had a more Camel, Genesis direction in his playing.

Ascension has a clear Steve Vai/Satriani kind of aproach sounds like a guitarist album, is progressive in sound but less symphonic then Visions and has less keyboards arrangements, and aswell the passages are not so complicated anymore, no more lots of twists and turns. I can't extract a piece to be the best, all has same level. Overall good album, but not fantastic as Visions. 3 stars for me, nothing more nothing less.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars With a band name like The Inner Road, an album title of `Ascension', and an instrument credit on the back mentioning a sitar, I don't think it was unreasonable to expect a thoughtful album, full of drifting, meditative and dreamy passages! Instead, this instrumental disc is overloaded with the most excessive of electric guitar-playing, essentially 8 tracks dominated with endless guitar solos climaxing over and over again. It's perhaps the adult film equivalent of prog rock! Oh sure, there's brief bits of other instruments in between, but pretty quickly it's back to business, just what you paid for. All joking aside, The Inner Road have a very similar sound to Italian instrumentalists Il Giardino Onirico, although this has a more constantly heavy riffing backing, and of course is dominated by that electric guitar showboating mentioned above. It's not to say the album is poor, not in any way, it's just that it sells itself a bit short by focusing too much on one sound.

This two piece band are comprised of Jay Paramar on guitar and sitar, with multi-instrumentalist Steve Gresswell working with keyboards, bass, drums and arranging the orchestration. Despite opening with gentle flute over synth orchestration and choir, almost instantly chugging riffs enter just after the minute mark, followed soon after by the first rising electric guitar solo that will set the template for the rest of the disc, a busy John Petrucci-like technicality. `The Steel Sky' has some nice dirty chugging riffs over gleefully malevolent imperial synths and pounding intimidating drums, quite an addictive and relentless track, only let down by a baffling and sudden fade-out! Despite being constantly obliterated by histrionic guitar mangling, the grandly symphonic `Two Words...' has lovely cooking Hammond, slinky bass, sweeping Mellotron wisps and Rick Wakeman-esque Minimoog pomp. `Altered Reality' has lush synths and violins, truly a lovely and regal classic sophistication in addition to romantic Pendragon-like grand soloing throughout, but very quickly falls into the same pattern by dissolving into frantic, up-tempo shredding. Joe Satriani, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater fans will like those bits in this one, but it's frustrating to hear the other elements overpowered constantly.

`Troubled Memories' is another 7 minute guitar solo disguised as a proper track, so instead listen for the occasional nice Mellotron washes, murmuring bass and lovely crying female choir that wordlessly floats around the piece in an ethereal manner. `A Fleeting Dream' teases you with the opening promise of a pleasant respite of acoustic guitar around scratchy Hammond before mule-kicking you with more punchy guitar wailing for six minutes. `The Awakening' is bluesy dark grooving guitar soloing over a triumphant orchestral backing. `Flight Through Eternity' makes for a suitable climax by incorporating soothing female sighed harmonies, droning sitar strains and uplifting, joyful triumphant soloing on both synths and keyboards.

The biggest problem with `Ascension' is that that all the gorgeous synth playing and lush orchestrations are only given the briefest amount of time to be heard before being drowned out constantly throughout the entire disc. Most of these passages serve as little 30 second breathers before the guitars kick in over and over again. I don't like to come across like I'm criticising the album too much, as there's not a badly played note on the entire disc, and the arrangements all have sophisticated passages. It's just that I personally find it too much of the same thing, each track mostly following the same pattern, and I find my mind starts to wander constantly while listening to it. Honestly, despite what an exceptionally talented musician Jay Paramar is, this sort of guitar p*rnography is utterly bewildering and exhausting to me.

However, guitar aficionados will be in heaven with `Ascension' and would be well advised to look into this disc right away. Others who like a bit more variety and something more subtle should probably look elsewhere for instrumental thrills, and 2013 had simply so many other outstanding examples to choose from. But if you are curious, and possibly a fan of the bombastic approach to guitars and synths by projects like Ayreon, Dream Theater and Satriani/Vai, this might be just your thing.

Three stars for me, but guitar freaks should add a whole other star.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I first heard of The Inner Road on Friday Night Progressive, a weekly internet radio show that has earned a reputation of playing only the best of the finest. Seconds into the first tune, I knew that I wanted to hear more. So, of course, I ordered and downloaded the entire Ascension CD. Wha ... (read more)

Report this review (#1016799) | Posted by Roland W. Craig | Sunday, August 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's very rare do you run across an Album of this quality and genre of music. This is an Instrumental masterpiece beautiful tasteful keyboards and smooth flowing guitar riffs make THE INNER ROAD "Ascension" a must have for anyone's collection. It takes me back to the days of Pink Floyd's Dark ... (read more)

Report this review (#1011582) | Posted by SuperDave | Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Occasionally I need an album or bit of music just to sit back, headphones on and chill too. Ascension is such an album. Now don't get me wrong, this is no mere background noise. Far from it. This is a fine body of work from accomplished musicians who delve deep into the music, bringing out an e ... (read more)

Report this review (#1010234) | Posted by rpr | Saturday, August 3, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Inner Road's latest cd entitled Ascension is a breath of fresh air for the world of Prog and Rock in general...Each track is a stand alone masterpiece, I have had the unique pleasure of playing tracks form the album on my Progressive Rock radio show and it has become a staple of the show... ... (read more)

Report this review (#1009884) | Posted by brotherraven | Friday, August 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sorry to rain on Tszirmay's parade, but the only words to describe "Ascension" are "remorseless" and "relentless". That the musicianship is exceptional is beyond doubt, but hearing precisely the same driving, soaring sounds for eight (instrumental-only) tracks running just became tedious. In ... (read more)

Report this review (#1009631) | Posted by tbstars1 | Thursday, August 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A totally new release! The british duo "The Inner Road's" album "Ascension" from 2013. Made up by Steve Gresswell on keyboards, drums, bass guitar and orchestration and Jay Parmer on guitars and sitar. On this records these guys manage to create sweet symphonic music which is very nice to ... (read more)

Report this review (#984953) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, June 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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