Throwing together bits and pieces of metalcore, thrash, and melodic death metal, Bay Area metal quartet Ashkira bring a rock solid offering in the way of their debut album, The Honor Of Defeat.

Ashkira actually means “loud strength” (in what language though, I couldn’t tell you). Their sound is reminiscent of Darkest Hour, Lamb of God, and Machine Head, all of which are influences. The album is actually fairly straightforward in it’s intentions. Ashkira want to showcase their blend of old school thrash brutality with the darker melodic sensibilities of melodic death metal and metalcore, and they do this fairly well.

The riffs and guitar leads provided by guitarists Thomas Armitage and Nick Bagley are pretty catchy. When combined with Peter Aregger’s bursts of double bass blasts and bassist/vocalist David Minhondo’s throaty screams, there’s a an ongoing mood of struggle, as depicted in the album’s artwork and foreshadowed in the album’s title. The mood is portrayed very well in the song “Life Like”, particularly in the chorus.

[wpaudio url=”https://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/03-Life-Like.mp3″ text=”Ashkira – Life Like” dl=”0″]

The rest of the tracks on the album carry a similar feel and pace, in varying dynamics in which this emotion is displayed. There are breakdowns, but they are most certainly not overdone and only help to build this small dynamic. Minhondo’s vocals do take a break from the screams every once in a while to do a more clean, hardcore type of yelling, as in the track “Beyond the Pale,” and this break is welcome when things are getting to be a bit too much.

The production on the album could be a bit better, particularly in the mixing. I’d love it if the vocals were higher up in the mix on some tracks. Ashkira could also use more audible bass presence. I just feel like more crunch could make their sound more powerful. My main drag with The Honor Of Defeat, however, is that there isn’t enough variance in the songs to justify the length of the record. The riffs are great, there just aren’t enough of them to really optimize the use of a 6+ minute song. In this regard, the album feels a bit lengthy and repetitive. As with anything though, on repeated listens these imperfections become less noticeable.

Overall, The Honor Of Defeat is a start off on the right foot for Ashkira. The album is aggressive, fast, and catchy, but seems to be held back by it’s own weight. This is still very much an enjoyable album, however, and will find itself right at home with fans of contemporary metalcore bands like Lamb of God, Parkway Drive, and Darkest Hour. I am eager to see what these guys can come up with next.

Ashkira – The Honor Of Defeat gets

3/5 | Good

– JR

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