Ashbury have been around for a while, having released Endless Skies in 1983 and eventually the follow-up, Something Funny Going On in 2004. They have now got around to releasing their third album, Eye Of The Stygian Witches and continue where they left off with a classy album full of 80s inspired heavy rock. Hailing from Tuscon in Arizona and made up of brothers Randy Davis (lead guitar, vocals) and Rob Davis (vocals, acoustic guitar) along with John Bujak (guitars, harmony vocals) Joey Moreno (bass), John Gimmler (drums) and Eddie Hosmer (bass).
Regardless of their history, this is the first time I’ve come across them. First impressions make me think of Ken Hensley’s solo stuff combined with Jethro Tull and Wishbone Ash… quite a mix, but it all comes together and they have delivered a decent slice of heavy rock on this new album.
Opener ‘End Of All Time’ is reminiscent of Heep’s Lady In Black in its harmonies, structure and feel, but seriously amped up. This is a very high quality lead off. ‘Good Guitar’ sounds a lot like the Steve Morse Band’s ‘Rockin’ Guitars’ and the higher vocal register doesn’t always work, although musically, it is a good one. ’Summer Fades Away’ is an acoustic ballad that is quite Blackmore’s night… if Candice was a baritone! ‘Celtic Cross’ is an instrumental, slow of pace, but high on atmosphere as the Tull influences show in the phrasings. ‘Faceless Waters’ gets back to rock with a heavy riff and flourishes worthy of Wishbone Ash. ‘Searching’ is very Ken Hensley, down to the not quite tuneful, but effective vocals. The title track has twin guitar touches as it builds to the main riff when it turns into Ian Anderson fronting Wishbone Ash… it’s pretty good though. The final track, ‘All My Memories’ is another acoustic that is only 1.5 minutes long and is pleasant enough but doesn’t really go anywhere.
This is an album of varied textures and leaves me thinking it could have been so much more. It is all played very well but perhaps they are trying a little too hard: if all of the songs had the quality of the first track it would have been brilliant.