Exclusive: Ascendia Premieres Video to Support Efforts of Red Cross

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Toronto symphonic metal band Ascendia have made a hard-hitting 8-minute music video about religious warfare and extremism for their debut album’s title-track, “The Lion and The Jester,” premiering exclusively on Samaritanmag. It ends with a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, reinforcing their message (watch video below).

The reason for the partnership with an online magazine about good people trying to change bad things is not just the song’s message; 50 percent of all band revenue, including album and merchandise sales, for the next three months, will be donated to the Red Cross.

“When we were first writing the song, we didn’t have charity on our minds,” drummer Billy Lov, who wrote the lyrics, tells Samaritanmag. “We wanted to write something that had a lot of meaning, then have a video that tied in with the message in the lyrics. It wasn’t until the video was completely done that we talked to the Red Cross.

“The reason we chose the Red Cross is we know that they’re first responders to world incidents, such as war and natural disasters, so we thought it was very fitting, especially what is going on with ISIS and even recently with Nepal. It’s definitely necessary that we donated to something that is tied in with what the video is about.”

Directed by Garret Henry, interspersed with Ascendia’s live performance of the song is tons of film and TV footage, starting out sweetly with the Pope gently cradling the head of a boy, and Muslims and Orthodox Jews at prayer to the stunning architecture of mosques and churches, but then images of war are used: tanks, soldiers, missiles, Hitler, Bin Laden, and more.

“The video tries to show in the beginning that religion is beautiful and there’s a lot of beautiful things about religion,” says Lov. “What the video does go on to show is how we stain religion and how others make religion look like this terrible thing.”

Asked if anyone in Ascendia is religious, Lov speaks on behalf of himself; his brother, guitarist/vocalist John Lov; and frontman Nick Sakal. The other members are bassist John Abanador, keyboardist Maestro and bassist John Abanador.

“Me and my brother are both Greek Orthodox and our singer is also Christian. But my brother and I are not serious, church-going Christians. We were brought up in a Christian family. We all have our faith, but we’re not hardcore.”

Does he believe religion is t the source of all wars?

“I don’t think we believe that religion is at the source of all wars; it’s more people are the source of all wars,” he says. “Religion is just one of the many things that we fight about. So if it wasn’t religion we don’t think that war would stop. We’re just trying to say that fighting over religion is hypocritical.

“The war thing is going forever and it just never stops, so it’s never not going to be relevant. We could have released this song and video anytime.”

For those who don’t make it to the end of the video to read Ghandi’s quote and the moral Ascendia is trying to make, the band is ready for the criticisms and Internet trolls in the comments section on YouTube, as is wont to happen.

“The whole point of the video is to keep you intrigued for the whole thing,” Lov says. “There are obviously people that aren’t going to watch it all; those people are probably going to get the wrong message.”

Acendia, whose album was released globally Feb. 24, and have performed on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and supported such acts as Into Eternity and Single Bullet Theory, will be donating 50 percent of the proceeds from their t-shirts, tank tops, hats, song and album sales to the Red Cross —  “any type of band revenue,” says Lov.

Angel D'Andrea, senior manager, community engagement at Canadian Red Cross, endorsed the campaign and now Ascendia has its own donation page on the Red Cross web site.

“The Canadian Red Cross delivers primary health care programs, relief supplies, water and sanitation and shelter solutions to people affected by conflicts, natural disasters or other emergencies,” it states. “Canadian Red Cross international programming promotes cost-effective, community-based programs, which help large numbers of people with humanitarian aid and long-term development programs.

“Toronto band, Ascendia is working with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure that we are able to assist those impacted by conflicts and disasters across the world.”

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Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.