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Firstly, certain genres aren't for everyone, some claim metalcore is what "good metal sounds like after it has sold out", others claim it is the defining underground metal scene of a generation. To be objective among genres would be to make no sense, as the defining qualities of, say, power metal and metalcore are so different that they could never be compared well objectively. Thus music shouldn't be set aside solely because of it's genre, and thus it would be a logical fallacy to judge music solely based on the genre, for example saying "Ascendancy is a bad album because it is metalcore." And usually this is done in a less blunt manner, but essentialy many people will and have said that it just sounds like all the other metalcore, but to be truly objective you must listen beyond the genre, to the technicality, energy, and emotion of music within the style (or if it breaks ground in music/metal altogether.)
Now, onto this album specifically.
Matt Heafy's vocals didn't change much from Ember to Inferno, they still maintain a good level of emotion, enough to maintain a good atmosphere within the music. The lyrics are a drawback to the album, because despite the above average delivery, the lyrics have highs and lows. At some points they will be very angst ridden and powerful, such as on the song "Drowned and Torn Asunder", yet at others they will seem very cliche', such as on the song "Dying in your Arms." This is a bigger drawback to some more than others, but personally I believe that as long as lyrics aren't consistantly lacking emotion and lacking intelligence, than the music can be listenable (and deep, intelligent lyrics are just a rare bonus.)
The guitar work is fantastic throughout the entire album, it isn't a shredfest by any means, but it is delivered with such conviction and emotion, while at the same time maintaining technicality and not falling into any stereotypes of the genere. This just further adds to the great atmosphere this album gives, and the emotions it evokes. This guitar work is exhibited throughout the entire album, but to get a good idea of it I would listen to the song "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation." The bass, on the other hand, is generally hidden under the guitar, doing only what it needs to do and never pushing limits. Which isn't neccesarily bad, because it definately does not take away from the music, but there is not much to say about it besides that it just fits with the music.
The drums on this album are not overly-technical or overbearing which drums can tend to be when bad drummers try to overcompensate. But Travis Smith attempts a "White Stripes"'esque strategy on this album, by just playing drums that fit well with the music, he does what he needs to do to sound good and nothing more. This is a treat for those of us that are fed up with abnoxious drummers or those that only use standard double-bass riffs. Generally all of the instruments on this album synergize perfectley, and I attribute it most to this style of drumwork.
The first taste of this album you get (after the fairly dissapointing introduction) is "Rain" which is a very energetic song to kickstart the album, though I feel it is the one point on the album where musicianship is not exhibited as well as on the rest of album, especially on the guitar. But the last song, "Declaration," is a definate highlight of this album and a great way to end the album, on good musicianship and excellent angstridden vocals with coherent lyrics to go along with the fantastic delivery.
"Ascendancy" is a wholly entertaining album, perhaps sans the song "Dying in your Arms", but that is not a horrible song and is easily made up for by the proceeding song "The Deceieved." So the album is not perfect, but it is very enjoyable and I think will be looked back on as a classic album of the metalcore genre. I would definately check it out if you are into the metalcore genre or are looking to explore other genres.