May 16 marked the return of Matt Barlow to Delaware, the state in which he once lived for many years and served as a police officer. His new band, ASHES OF ARES, was making a tour stop in New Castle, Delaware at JB McGinnes. The night was packed with great locals, including my good friends in ALTAR OF DAGON as direct support.
ALTAR OF DAGON opened their set with a trademark song of theirs titled “Paradise Lost.” And yes, it is inspired by John Milton’s poem of the same title. It set the tone for more epic songs to come. “Alhazred” and “Names of the Dead” followed directly after. The band members all interacted with the crowd as they do so well; even walking down from the stage with their wireless instruments to jam with the crowd. The energy level was high and the crowd was enjoying the dose of metal being served up. Between songs, ALTAR OF DAGON announced that this night would be the final show with their current bassist, Myke, as he will be moving on to another project. They celebrated the moment, thanking everyone who has seen them through their many years, especially those with Myke. The band exploded into “Dealbreaker,” followed by the set closing “Seer of Six.” If you like your metal epic and full of doom, I suggest you look into the Delaware natives right away.
After the killer set from ALTAR OF DAGON, Matt Barlow, Freddy Vidales, Van Williams, and company were all set to go on. The crowd roared with great excitement as the men took the stage and manned their instruments. ASHES OF ARES smashed right into “The Messenger”, the opening track from their self-titled debut album. The band was absolutely on fire right out of the gate! After they played the second track from their LP, “Move the Chains,” Matt informed the crowd that we would be hearing the album in its entirety! So, not only does a hometown hero return with his band, but we get to witness the whole ASHES OF ARES record in person. Excellent!
As the set progressed in the order of the album, the band reached one of my personal favorites, “Punishment.” Matt prefaced the song by acknowledging his inner comic nerd, stating the song was about one of his favorite characters. If you don’t get that reference, I feel bad for you. Throughout the duration of the set, the band really embraced the crowd and it felt as if they were playing to a room full of their friends; often times making the fans in attendance laugh with them. Another favorite of mine was performed as “This is My Hell” was next. Many people in attendance were singing along with Matt’s stellar voice. Not only was the band incredibly tight and precise in their playing, but Matt’s voice was over the top! It’s hard for me to recall seeing a vocalist with so much natural talent in person like this. Not a single note was off. And those highs! Just incredible.
Other personal highlight tracks during their ten song set were “Dead Man’s Plight,” “Chalice of Man,” and “The One-Eyed King.” Considering the band members’ history of playing in other largely popular metal bands, ASHES OF ARES certainly stand on their own. Their live show, stage presence, and sound were fantastic. If you consider yourself to be even a slight fan, make a point to check their tour schedule on a regular basis so you can catch them in your town. You are truly missing out if you don’t take the opportunity to witness their show. And if you haven’t heard their album yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? Pick it up immediately. You will NOT be disappointed. The members of this band are clearly on a mission to create the next great chapter of their musical careers.
This is only the beginning of something that has great potential to captivate large audiences worldwide. Pay close attention, ASHES OF ARES are just getting going!
LIVE REVIEW BY ERIC THE BULL
LIVE PHOTOS BY DENNIS MILLER AND SHERI DODSON