Association game time again :D David Shankle - MANOWAR - DAVID SHANKLE GROUP - result? Traditional Metal in the vein of the Eighties? You've got a score! Even more so, when you look at the cover, which shows a raised arm with a sword in hand…
When I received this one in the mail, I was surprised in two ways. First off that this CD is from Nuclear Blast and I had it in the mail! Surprise, because they refuse to co operate in any way. Ok, was not sent to us by them, but still. Second surprise was that David Shankle, former guitarist of MANOWAR, has resurfaced.
Musically the surprise has been a lot smaller, because it is very traditional Heavy Metal in the American style as it had been hip and in back in the Eighties. But even though this so far reads very close to MANOWAR, where Shankle had been until 1995, the music in fact is not, despite its straightness and the true Metal fashion that the songs are in. Vocally alone the difference is big enough, quite a bit rougher than Eric Adams and not even trying to reach the highest highs, which is a plus, if you ask me.
Song wise, even though he has enough room to show his abilities on the guitar, David never overdoes it and very well embeds his solos and all into the song itself, so even non musicians can appreciate it and do not get annoyed by his fuddlings, which adds a lot to the positive overall impression. If we go into details, then the connected duo of "The Widow's Grief" and "The Widow's Peak", the great SKID ROW like ballad "Calling All Heroes", the haunting "Curse Of The Pharaoh" and the stomping "The Tolling Of The Bell" come to mind as highlights of the CD.
Master Shankle could only have one problem with this debut: The expectation of the fans that expect MANOWAR and don't get them or of those fans that do not want MANOWAR and therefore might not give "Ashes To Ashes" a chance. So, "Ashes To Ashes" is a strong album that every fan of good Power Metal of the American school should like and also win over a few of the Europeans, not more, not less! (Online July 9, 2003)