Taking the listener on a compelling and expansive journey through soundscapes which evoke and provoke thought and imagination, Ascension the new album from The Inner Road, is a vibrant and classy adventure which incites personal invention and interpretation to its narrative whilst equally creatively directing thoughts into a proposed direction. It is an enveloping kaleidoscope of instrumental progressive rock with each movement and moment drenched in a full blaze of sonic colour and inspirational craft from its creators for the deepest pleasure.
The Inner Road is a project founded by keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/ songwriter/producer Steve Gresswell as an outlet for
his more symphonic style of instrumental progressive rock, sounds and ideas which do not find a place within the creativity of his other band Coalition. The Inner Road also finds Gresswell collaborating with other musicians who bring something special to fit the need of the music. 2011 saw the release of debut album Visions, a record made with renowned guitarist Phil Braithwaite which was met with strong acclaim, and here for Ascension the musician has teamed up with one of the UK’s finest guitarists and rock songwriters to emerge in recent years, Jay Parmar. Fresh from the release of his own stunning album Circle of Fire via Steve Vai’s Digital Nations label, Parmar brings a style to the new album which sets tracks on fire with passion and evocative invention, his striking style drawing out the same hunger as inspired by his previous solo work for this album As well as his own releases and Ascension, the guitarist is also recording the new album from Exorcism featuring Csaba Zvekan and Joop De Rooij (both also in Ravenlord) as well as again joining up with Zvekan in new band D.O. Messiah, showing the appeal and impressive reputation Parmar has earned over recent years, which will only grow further when, after being invited by Gresswell, he joins Coalition who record their new album later this year.
Ascension wastes no second of its inventive presence to light up the senses and thoughts with full and extensive atmospheres, their embrace consistently fuelled by the sonic skill and grace of Parmar’s melodic incisions and alchemy; sounds and imagination which comes more often than not with a breath and caress of eastern influences and suggestion within an almost exhausting creative temptation. Set alongside the equally captivating and warmly invasive keyboard enterprise and ingenuity of Gresswell the union makes for a release which leaves visual and emotional alchemy in its enthralling wake.
The title track opens up the adventure, a piano aiding a sun of melodic enticing to introduce the first steps on the departure into the vast realms of the album. Its company comes from crunchy riffs slowly bringing their voice to the brewing unveiling of this beckoning expansive landscape. With the sounds of both musicians coming together to sculpt the view there is a sense of depth and long passage ahead in the exploration of the immediately majestic world. The song appears as a travelogue of textures and sonic exhilaration instantly in league with the wonderful orchestral seduction at work , and their unity finding itself in tandem with the melodic weaves and wash already igniting the passions. As in all songs the music is like a ‘travel guide’, a provocateur to beauteous scenery and imagination whether visual or reflectively emotive, an investigation which is enjoyed physically and imaginatively.
From the immense opener the album takes flight through The Steel Sky; sinewy almost cold riffs from guitar and bass guiding the listener through shadowed clouds and imposing structures to find the sonic rays of light and melodic coating of sun brought from the keys and the stunning persuasive guitar commentary. It is then followed by the equally powerful Two Worlds Two Tomorrows, the track seemingly the sister to its predecessor as deeper in to the heart of the emotive terrain we go. Every song within the album feels connected to what came before and follows, for a fulfilling and ear widening melodic peregrination.
The smouldering and sizzling sonic traverse of Altered Reality and the provocative Troubled Memories step forward next to raise the temperature further. The first has fire to its intensity and creative sonic discharge whilst ensuring a continually evolving surprise in its presence with a compelling regal mid-section with potent and sirenesque strings, their orchestral embrace stepping in to temper the heated insistence of Parmar and set celestial cascades of melodic glory falling upon the ear, whilst the second is a dazzling candescent of melodic and harmonic craft leaving again only rising emotion towards its enthrallment
The biggest highlights of the thrilling album come with the final three tracks starting with A Fleeting Dream, a piece which triggers an unbridled flood of thoughts and ideas with furnace bright melodies and descriptive paint box rich sonic colouring. Parmar wrings out every emotive drop of incitement with his playing whilst the keys of Gresswell especially when he flows through a stunning sea of floral melodic expression which reminds of Dave Greenfield at his best, inciting the fullest ardour for what is the best track on the album. The outstanding and riveting The Awakening has its say on the final choice of top dog though with its initial colonial call moving aside for another poetic and provocative voyage of shifting gait and imagination whilst the closing Flight through Eternity simply lures the last of any passion still sheltering out with its strongest Eastern sultriness and inflamed closing sunset.
Ascension is an excellent and continually giving album, a release which just gets better and more potent with each travel of its ambient hot pilgrimage. The Inner Road has produced a release which is not only progressive/ instrumental rock at its best but melodic enterprise of any description.
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