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Ascension a new 'German' band with their debut Consolamentum have produced a record highly worthy of a place in the annals of black metal, and in my opinion one of the best debuts to grace black metal ever.
Ascension are yet another anonymous band, followers of theistic Satanism and very little information has been divulged about them; this may seem to be a growing trend (DSO, Blut Aus Nord, Rex Mundi, etc.) and whilst it may smack of attempts to create an aura about the band and serve little more than to ignite conversation and interest, I would contest, that this shows greater confidence in the music that is being produced, as it ultimately means the music has no 'lifelines', it stands completley on its own merits as opposed to it being lauded for the members in the band and whatever projects they may also be involved with.
So it is that Consolamentum is a success and more, the album shows a sense of understanding and maturity about the music and aesthetic that is not often seen in younger bands. Undoubtedly the members are involved with other projects, to me the album reeks of Norma Evangelium Diaboli bands, in fact I'm surprised they are not signed to them, the consipracy theorist in me however makes me consider if this is little more than a ploy to throw people off the trail of who the members in the band may be. The only person whom is listed on the album is LSK of Vorkriest, Hell Militia, Antaeus fame. It is probably of note that nearly every band she is involved with is in some way connected to the French scene and bands signed to Norma Evangelium Diaboli.
Consolamentum is a fully realised beast with high production in every facet, from the artwork which goes against the standard BS of 'it's only good if its monochromatic', the production which is unbelievably crisp and clear with each instrument being easily indentifiable, the lyrics offer an intelligent insight into the bands ideaology instead of the usual fare that is offered up, musicianship is of an extremley high standard and finally, composition, the way in which the band pieces this all together. It is intricate and full of subtle nuances that reward the listener in a way that few albums do.
The album is lyrically a concept album split into five chapters 'dealing with the spiritual transformation of a human soul towards salvation' a somewhat heady topic and something that will either fall into the exceedingly perceptive and intriguing or the utterly cringeworthy and dreadful. Fortunately it belongs to the former, and falls perfectly in line with the music, instead of the usual combination of good music but weak(er)/laughable lyrics (Black Witchery, anyone?).
So what does it sound like? As mentioned before the band sounds similar to bands on Norma Evangelium Diaboli, not so much in particular bands but more as the general idea that bands on this label provide, to my ears it perfectly encapsulates the sound of the French and Swedish scenes; with songs like 'Grey Light Sibling' and 'Fire & Faith' bringing to mind Ondskapt and Ofermod. The album is by no means 'fast', there are points when the pace picks up but it is mostly a mid-tempo affair which serves the album well, with slower parts being reminiscent of Secrets of the Moon (another German band that LSK has recently done some work with on their new album 'Seven Bells', coincidence??)
The thing that strikes me when I listen to this album is restraint, the band evidently knew exactly what they wanted to do and how they wanted to execute it. I am not one who believes that black metal has to consistently sound like hell let loose, a cacophony of noise; whilst this approach can be enjoyable, I often feel that people use this as a means to paper over the cracks of a poor product, by hiding pitfalls in white noise and 'rawness/kvltness, etc.'. Listens to a CD like Consolamentum are enjoying for the dark oppressive atmosphere that the music brings, similar to the approach of Antaeus, Shining, Aosoth and Ofermod to name a few who pull it off very well.
This album whilst not original or terribly progressive is one of those rare gems where a band manages to draw influence from so many different parts and is able to package it and turn it into a release of an extremely high calibre to appear as a new and fresh experience, yet still finding ways to impart and imprint their own sound upon it.
Here's hoping for a sophmore release that can equal or exceed this, this is how black metal should sound in the 21st century.
Recommended to fans of Secrets of the Moon, Shining, Blaze of Perdition and bands signed to Debemur Morti, End All Life and Norma Evangelium Diaboli.
(Originally written for baileysmmcreamy.blogspot.com)
Ascension is an orthodox black metal band from Germany with music revolving around magic and death. Their identities are unknown, and they formed in 2007 with consistent label World Terror Committee. ‘Consolamentum’ is their first full-length and was released in 2010.
‘Consolamentum’ is certainly an album with squeaky clean production. For their first full-length, the quality is far too monumental to come from individuals new to the scene. These guys obviously know what they are doing. The first track to the album, ‘Open Hearts’, bears the sensation of a prelude to something absolutely catastrophic. There is build up, an uncomfortable anticipation in the air. Guitars are an excursion into unknown land; the melodies are simply not of this world. They are sometimes repetitive but far from a negative sense of the word. In this case, It is instead a necessity. The riffs invoke a surreal atmosphere. There is sporadic shredding, which is satisfying if not a slight tease. Vocals are much more orderly and decipherable than most black metal vocal work and is clean sounding with periodic yelling at the most dramatic parts of songs, accompanied with whispering and sometimes untouched speaking. It is apparent they would like their word to be known. The lyrics are well formed and linger within the listener’s mind. There is what appears to be a sample of screaming in this album, particularly the song ‘Grey Light Sibling’, which is on the tacky side and not entirely necessary. The bass maintains composure with the rest of the instruments and does well to complement this music. Drums keep up with the pace each song warrants, but do not expect constant blasting with Ascension – they are simply not that sort of band. Their drummer is a professional, not bedraggled in the least, and demonstrates great musicianship on this album.
Originally written for http://www.blackmetalelite.com
Ascension are undoubtedly skilled at composing songs and creating flawless transitions. As it stands, they have several releases. They have proven themselves, and now listeners are eager for the next release. Recommended for fans of Craft and Chaos Invocation.
It was the autumn of 2009, when word was spread about the demo tape from a German band that emerged in obscurity with its members deliberately unknown to the public. Apart from the hype though, the fact was that those five tracks brought up with them a very special aura, an aura coming straight from the orthodox waters of DEATHSPELL OMEGA. “With Burning Tongues” was afterwards released in CD and vinyl format and ASCENSION became a common discussion topic amongst fans.
15 months later, with “Fire And Faith” EP having served as appetizer and information about the band revealed (Drakh from KATHARSIS is indeed one of their members), their new opus “Consolamentum” was ready to confirm the new force in blackmetal. And so it does indeed, this time with more direct compositions that owe to DsO-like chaos as much as they do to traditional metal, their marching, heavy riffs being blended with bitter leads ands melodies and creating a haunting atmosphere which is the key part here. A concept of luciferianism is gradually revealed track by track, drawing inspiration even from muslim prayers (“Grant Me Light”), until we reach the magnificent conclusion of “Consolamentum” which brings to mind their previous work.
And that may be the drawback here, for some people, like myself who admired the complexity of “With Burning Tongues” compositions and their intention to explore the inner self. It’s not that “Consolamentum” lacks inspiration (how could this be with tracks like “Rebellion Flesh” and the already known “Fire And Faith”) but their turn towards more direct songwriting, probably aiming to highlight the philosophical concept, has taken away some of the spirituality that came straight from the music.
So be it though, it’s only their first official full-length and it definitely has some special offerings for the listener. As long as they keep supporting the hype surrounding them, ASCENSION have a bright future ahead. We should just “Open Hearts” to the “Angel Of The Burning Sun”!
Originally written for:
Orthodox black metal used to be a powerful phrase, one that would signify conviction, belief and overall higher standards that a band puts in front of itself. However, a series of mediocre releases from bands at the genre’s forefront and a torrent of copycat hopefuls have cast a shadow of doubt on anything that appears under this moniker. Luckily, Ascension is one of those bands that restore faith into this seemingly defunct genre. I’ve first heard of them back when their demo “With Burning Tongues” appeared, a release that instantly separated them from all other wannabes by its stunning quality for a demo, both musically and in terms of sound. These guys have shown from the very beginning that they’re here to make a statement, and what a statement “Consolamentum” is!
There is an instantly noticeable atmosphere on the album, even before the intro reaches its end – the feeling is unmistakeably occult, and the entire album flow has a ritualistic feel, with a marvellous culmination in the album’s final seconds. If you need a really plastic reference of the album’s production, think the clarity and ambience of Necros Christos, with Teitanblood dirt thrown in for good measure. It’s just mindboggling how well the production suits the album, especially for a band’s debut, even if there are rumours circulating that the band members are anything but newbies (certain Katharsis members are thought to be involved in the band, to be specific). Everything is perfectly clear and each instrument audible, while it doesn’t take away a single percent from what the album is trying to depict. You may or may not know that the album has a concept, but regardless, you can feel it; even the vocals are distinguishable enough to give you an idea of where the band draws their inspiration from. The band exceeds perfectly at all tempos, keeps the flow of the album intact and truly makes you – no, inspires you – to continue to listen. Musically, the album contains elements already heard from bands such as Watain, Ondskapt or Ofermod, but it’s so much more than the sum of those parts; I assure you that the last thing you’ll do while listening is noticing things that bear resemblance to other bands.
The black metal community, although habitually uniform and narrow-minded, seems to have taken to this album extremely well; I’ve seen “Consolamentum” garner favourable reviews from people with completely opposite opinions as to what black metal should sound like – in a way, the situation reminds me of early Watain releases. This should be quite enough for you to give Ascension a listen. As for me, this is one of the most captivating albums I’ve had the chance to hear in months, and will definitely be one of the top candidates for this year’s best black metal album. I can but hope that worthy competitors are to follow, since if so, this year may very well be one of the best black metal has seen in years. “Consolamentum” is a spit in the face to all those who claim that quality black metal has died long ago and an album that deserves my wholehearted recommendation.
(originally written for http://www.metal-sound.net)