From far beyond the blackness of space (which is really just Germany), Ascension have returned after a five year absence to unleash their newest release entitled The Dead of The World. Brought forth to this plane of existence by peddlers of death and record label known as Season of Mist, this seven song album is a much welcomed return to form for this Occult-obsessed five piece. Composed of Black Metal vitriol and tempered upon the anvil of Death Metal, this is an album that should forced down the throats of all those who profess to worship and consider themselves holy. It has a slick, but not over produced sound to it and they never really waver in terms of what their exact niche is. Composed of more slower to mid-paced black metal tracks, this is a release that takes a little time to wrap your head around, but when you do, it stays with you for the long haul.
“The Silence of Abel” starts off this audio transcription of darkness, tearing away at the shroud that separates man from the unknown evil contained within. The song itself starts in a slow burn sort of way. The first section of this song forces the listener to work for this band, building up before that they finally unleash their blackened onslaught around the three and half minute mark. A volcanic rain of blast beats and chaotic guitar work ignite out of this portion of the song, allowing one to get a glimpse of what they’re in store for throughout The Dead of The World. A rather impressive first song, as it showcases that this band took their time in writing this new material; it crosses over between the sped up, frantic assault that Black Metal has been known for and also the more subdued, sinister aspect that this style can also contain. “The Dark Tomb Shines” showcases some these leanings, constructing an early section of twisted guitar work and unrelenting drums while the lead vocalist belts out in a rather deep, throaty scream. Insert a rather melodic guitar solo in the middle, keyboards and a strong ending which results in one finally being pulled down into Ascensions, black astral ocean. “Deathless Night” managed to snag the top spot of the album in my world, starting off with a much more traditional black metal opening and closing. The overall speed and opening lead are pretty impressive; highlighting both the drummer and guitar players skill off. Fast forwarding a bit into the song, Ascension crumbles down into a slow, earth-quaking cacophony of cosmic destruction Which sends this one off nicely into the abysmal dark beyond the stars. Where the lead us by the hand alongside side them with a pretty epic send off for the closing portion of the song.
As I just mentioned, Ascension reveal another head of their hydra-like assault, injecting songs with brief moments of keyboards and that classic “evil church choir” sound that has become so many bands bread and butter. While these portions of background noise and haunting sounds rely more heavily upon the more symphonic black metal movement, with the most notable comparison being early Dimmu Borgir releases. Although, these moments really do accent the atmosphere of dread and occult related themes that they project and praise, without sounding to cheesy or over played. Going this route can be a tricky one, as there has been a backlash against this sound for awhile now in some circles. But it works on this record and succeeds in adding the atmosphere they had intended on creating. They’ve layered these moments appropriately in order to accent certain portions and overall, it was good decision by the band. They could have laced this entire record and really overdone it, turning away even the most die hard fans of this style, but by doing it with a surgeons touch, it came off pretty damn well.
While splattered with moments of blast beats and speed, this album as whole walks more along the lines of Behemoth’s earlier works and even avant-garde, genre-challenging beasts Deathspell Omega. My only complaint really about this album is that it’s almost too across the board in terms of it’s sound. While on paper it’s got it all, I think perhaps it plays it a little too safe in some ways. You can almost taste their influences seeping out of the speakers; maybe even leaning a little too much onto what they’ve heard previously and not what they’ve envisioned. Not meaning to take anything away from this release, because it really is a great record that should be heard and spread across the land like the black plague. Based on the fact that this is a project who released their last album five years ago and seemingly went back to the workshop is a great sign for them in terms of their future releases depth and content. It means that they take this entire summoning sonic demons shit seriously and have passion for what they do. What I really want to see now is this band take the extra step and really break away from their influences and truly breath life into this creation that they’ve constructed. A voice from beyond the stars tells me that they are capable of it, let’s just see if they heed that call.