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Ascend - Ample Fire Within (2008)
The debut album by the new doom / drone project of Greg Anderson and Gentry Densley is a less droning and more accessible version of the kind of experimental doom associated with Anderson's better known band Sunn0))).
As with that band, Ascend revolves around the Anderson-Densley core of two guitarists aided by various guest musicians who for this album turn out to be people who have already worked with Sunn0))) and Earth, with the perhaps unlikely result that "Ample Fire Within" is a recording that could almost be a condensed history of nearly everything Sunn0))) has done in the past ten years. At this rate of development, the next Ascend album could very well be a taste of what Sunn0))) plan on doing over the next five to ten years!
One thing you notice about this album is the presence of drums, courtesy of Andy Patterson, on nearly every track. Opener "The Obelisk of Kolob" gives us a little taster of what's to come; apart from the trombone, the track is pretty much Anderson and Densley revelling in throwing out deep doom riffs from their guitars like intense death rays. The title track which features both Densley and Attila Csihar on vocals is a very experimental, loosely structured song with moments of sheer power contrasting with snippets of guitar-generated atmospheric delicacy. Csihar's singing is a real bonus here, I can hear unearthly throat singing which adds an eerie feeling to the track. After this early highlight the album stumbles a bit with "Divine", a slow bluesy piece that seems to get stuck in parts and with not very impressive singing from Densley - I feel he's trying too hard to be emotive and his performance seems a little too hammy for this song.
"V.O.G." turns out to be a major highlight if not the highlight of the album with a deathly thumping percussion, a seesawing lurching guitar riff, monotonous chanting and drunken lead guitar from guest Bubba Dupree. Indeed an all-star cast of musicians including ex-Soundgardener Kim Thayil, Sunn0))) producer Randall Dunn and two guys from Earth (Steve Moore and Don McGreevy) play on this track which features ever more deranged lead guitar licks as it continues on its lumbering way.
"Her Horse is Thunder" is also a good track if not in the same league as "V.O.G." - it's an all-instrumental piece and has Densley on lead guitar and Moore on organ so it's a palatable piece for those who like some experimentation in a more structured context. All too soon though we come to closing track "Dark Matter" which is an introverted mood piece with huge cavernous spaces from which Densley's voice issues. The track is driven by booming riffs and lead guitar melodies from Densley. The lyrics refer to the collision of the Shoemaker - Levy 9 comet with Jupiter in 1995 and so about the 10th minute there is an almight crash-and-thunder climax of booming guitar, drums and organ topped by Densley's emphatic though distant vocals.
Apart from "Divine", the music throughout this album is consistently good and travels at a good pace (for a genre that's meant to be slow) so that no matter how trundley it gets, I don't have the impression that the music gets stuck in a boring droning rut just for the sake of being in a droning rut or that the musicians are interested in seeing how much booming doom punishment they can get away with. Keyboards, drums and the occasional trombone add layers that invigorate and push the guitars along, and also add solemnity and make the songs seem heavier and more substantial than they are, not that they really need more heaviness! Enough experimentation with sound, tone, song structure and melody exists to keep listeners intrigued but there is not so much as to lose people or make them think the musicians are being self-indulgent. Even a bit of humour is present - check the field recording coda to "V.O.G." and tell me that's not a fun way to end such a lumbering song!
I dare say if you were thinking of listening to some of the Southern Lord label acts but were put off by whatever mixed messages, tales, legends and hype have grown up around these bands, you should try listening to this Ascend album: not so extreme as Sunn0))) can be but still powerful and edgy enough for both Sunn0))) fans and first-timers to enjoy. - Metal Archives
Tamaño: 275.47 MB