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ZiX - The Ascent of Madness Award winner

ZiX
The Ascent of Madness
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 23 December 2018, 8:18 PM

In 2016, I reviewed Middle Eastern, Lebanon based ZiX’s full length debut, “Tides of the Final War,” and found it to be an impressive collection of Traditional/Power Metal songs.  A couple years later and the band is getting ready to release their second full length album but until then they have released the digital only four track EP “The Ascent of Madness.”

The band’s style can best be described as hugely influenced by the Traditional Heavy/Power Metal bands of old.  Obvious influences can be heard sprinkled throughout these four tracks, such as IRON MAIDEN and BLIND GUARDIAN.  Much like those bands, so much of the melodies have a sort of voice of their own—I found myself “singing” along to them, much like I have done in the past with the aforementioned bands.  SORTILEGE, MANOWAR, RAINBOW, and HELLOWEEN are some bands that I hear in this band.  However, I can say in confidence that nothing on this ep is a copy of what came before—their sound is forged in honor and respect of those that came before, not because of a need to say what has already been said.

The biggest change to the band comes with the vocalist; Maya has left the band but with new vocalist Maria Danos at the helm, the band is actually better off. Danos' vocal prowess is quite impressive.  It is loud but clear, energetic but precise and she has quite the emotional impact to her range.  If I could compare her to anyone it would be DORO—a husky but feminine voice that commands instant attention. The album opens with the instrumental track, “The Ascent of Madness,” and is a wonderful showcase for what the band is aiming for.  Zias's bass is heard immediately—a melodic but thick tone that choose clever riffs instead of just following around the guitars.  Much like MAIDEN, ZiX’s music is really bass driven and there is a lot of listen to here on that end. Juan and Walid are amazing adept to playing off each other; the songs have a ton of melodies and harmonies weaved into them, not to mention the majestic yet melodic solos.  They both prioritize soaring melodies wrapped up in a catchy format over outright heaviness, which is what bands of this type should do in the first place.

Rise From Your Ashes Your Grave,” is the centerpiece of the album; it is the first time we hear Maria's vocals and it also has Hansi Kursch from BLIND GUARDIAN singing along with her.  Most people would sound tiny next to such a towering vocal presence but Maria more than holds her on—in fact, she sounds rather confident and right at home.  Hansi himself doesn’t just phone in an appearance—he is in the entire song and gives a big presentation—he sounds as majestic here as he does on any BLIND GUARDIAN release.  For her part, Maria sounds as if she has also spent decades with her own Power Metal act and could definitely see her singing some BG songs.  In addition to the vocal prowess, the song features a catchy chorus and sweeping guitar passages with thunderous melodies.

The next track, “Shadows Move Where Light Should Be,” is highlighted by Ziad Alam's drums; he hits them like a ton of bricks and his cymbal work is impressive, especially in between the songs vocal passages before the chorus kicks in.  I loved the part at 1:53 where the guitars go really melodic in the leads while the bass and drums just hammer in a solid rhythm that the guitar solo takes off from. The duel melodies, drums and bass working so well in tandem makes the last track, “When Time Stand Still,” the most MAIDEN like and the chorus definitely has a “Powerslave” feel to it.  This is probably my favorite track on the album.

If these four tracks are an indication of what the next full length could be, then I think ZiX will become a very important Metal band in the very near future.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Ascent of Madness
2. Rise From Your Ashes Your Grave
3. Shadows Move Where Light Should Be
4. When Time Stands Still
Lineup:
Ziad Bardawil - Bass Guitars, Bass Synth
Juan Carrizo – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Ziad Alam - Drums
Maria Danos – Vocals
Walid Awar – Rhythm Guitars
Record Label: Universal Music
     


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Edited 14 June 2021
 

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