Ascend CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers

Music Reviews
Ascend CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
Aug 5, 2008, 21:57

Ascend - Ample Fire Within

ASCEND Ample Fire Within CD

As the opener, “The Obelisk of Kolob,” begins its thunderous growl from the bowels of hell and the fact that 50% of Ascend is sunn O)))'s Greg Anderson, one would find it easy to shrug the shoulders and go about their business…until…drums?! Transforming from another installment of O))) dread into an intro song was one of the most comforting, and utterly terrifying, things to behold. Add to that trombones and the unknowing listener can only clutch their pillow and curse the surrounding night into bringing them to a place so dark and dense and exciting.

Of course elements of sunn O))) flow through the veins of Ascend, but with the collaboration of Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin) the hues transform into something unlike any other act on the Southern Lord roster. (And that is an achievement, what with housing artists ranging from the Spanish doom gods Orthodox to the beautiful, haunting country voice of Jesse Sykes [the Lord is only responsible for the vinyl version of Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul, but no matter…]). Densley brings his guttural, demon street hustler rasp to further transform what would be “movements” into, dare I say, “songs.” The title track merely hints at this but continuing on to “Divine” and, eventually, the netherworld, tribal deathbeat of “V O G,” a dark spirit evokes and chants the versatility and talent these guys have on their own, let alone as a team. Enter the many friends responsible for the additions of various instruments (most notably, Steve Moore, of Earth, and his abilities on organ, Wurlitzer, and the aforementioned trombone) and we have a collaboration that is as important as anything else being done today.

Sure, this is a doom record; the BPM will never reach the triple digits and a familiar mood of despair permeates everything. This celebration of it is that it simply doesn't sound like any other doom album out there. Within these songs is a playfulness that's willing to shake hands and meet something before pummeling it into the soil. Ample Fire Within is simultaneously giving and taking chances while skirting on the outside arc of modern music so as to remain both mysterious and enthralling. Like seers of their own variety, Ascend will be doing just that for years to come. [Southern Lord]

-Luc Rodgers


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