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Ashby: Fragmental

Vibrant debut from this German prog metal outfit.

This German group’s maiden full-lengther Fragmental has seen the light of day after the quintet formed in 2011, and it was well worth the wait.

An intoxicating cocktail of atmospheric hues, crunching prog metal waves and soaring melodies, it nods to the likes of Dream Theater and District 97. And, spookily, whereas D97’s Leslie Hunt appeared on American Idol, Ashby singer Sabina Moser starred on Germany’s The Voice. But don’t let that TV connection taint the prog fun: Aether - A Lunar Year is a 13-minute, up-down trip though riff and rumination, while highlight Ashes Decay borrows the salubrious splendour and swooping choruses of Haken. There’s plenty here too for those odd people who get squeamish at the sight of the ‘P’ word – the reflective Pax wouldn’t sound out of place on an Evanescence record. But it’s left-field thinking that streams through the veins of Ashby, and slap bang in the middle of the album is the expansive The Colossal Empire, which lobs around off-timings and dynamic instrumentation like grenades, and there’s even a jaunty saloon piano motif. If this is a sign of things to come for Ashby, the future looks bright.