Who doesn’t like a good super group? For those who don’t know, a super-group is defined as a band that’s formed by a bunch of established, professional musicians who have decided to join forces to deliver ass-kicking grooves to the ear-holes of their adoring public. . Drowning Ares could be considered a super-group within the Northern Virginia rock and metal scene, given that their lineup features Navid Rashid (Iris Divine, Eyes of the Nile), Jae Curtis (Silence the Blind), Patrick Larson (Grey Sky Eternal, Disco Muerte) and John Davidson. Today we’re diving head-first into their debut EP, “Nocturna,” due out March 29, 2019.
Track 1, “The Emissary,” effectively sets the tone with an ambient intro that one could assume is meant to signify the noise in our modern society. It isn’t long before the following chunky and groovy riffs give way to a brutal, chug-laden assault with fierce, hardcore-styled vocals that occasionally deliver some 80’s sounding cleans. The composition and production allows each instrument to shine, and features the guitar and vocals frequently bouncing between beautiful cleans and unbridled aggression. Track 2, “The Crossing (A Linear Me),” is a bit more straight-forward in its approach, sounding like a fusion of Mudvayne and Killswitch Engage, complete with driving verses capped off by a soaring chorus with an atmospheric guitar lead. It’s not as heavy as the proceeding track, but that’s soon remedied by track 3, “Beyond the Reach of Time and Reason,” a beast of a tune that hearkens back to the sound that bands like Overcast popularized in the late 90’s. The next track, “Of Fire and Kings,” continues this trend, but it once again is worth mentioning how the clean vocals sound more like something from a Hardline song than a boy-band, which unfortunately is what you’d expect from bands of this ilk. It’s a welcome change, and helps gives these guys their own identity.
The album is capped off by two more tracks: a track that shares the band’s name and the title track. “Drowning Ares” is a anthemic song that was definitely written to get the pit moving, with its relentless drum-work and frenetic riffing. As it goes on, it only gets more intense, reflecting the emotions the band is trying to convey. The final track, Nocturna, is a plodding, seven and a half minute epic that ends the album off on a high-note, melding all the best elements of the previous tracks into one solid package. As a whole, this is a strong debut from a group of veteran musicians, and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them. Be sure to check out “Nocturna”.
Overall Sound – 8 out of 10 (a throwback to the hardcore of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but with a modern edge)
Vocal Style – 8 out of 10 (brutal growls and manly cleans – no boy-band crap here!)
Overall Song Composition – 9 out of 10 (the songs naturally flow, and shift seamlessly from more gentle to heavier sounds)
Originality – 8 out of 10 (a fusion of the members’ past experiences and influences creates something unique, yet familiar)