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Not the Loftiest Summit - 67%

Thumbman, December 17th, 2018

Man, this is such a difficult album to talk about. I’m sure that’s what Full of Hell and The Body intended. The album is decidedly weird, with flittering electronics and glitchy drum beats being just as common as crawling sludge riffs. Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is a world away from the spastic power violence I saw from Full of Hell at a sweaty basement show.

With opener “Light Penetrates”, it quickly comes apparent that this is going to be a weird trip. Dazed psychedelic electronics start the album, which a droney sludge riffs eventually crawls over. At the end some weird-ass free jazz squeaking joins the fold. “King Laid Bare” has a weird hi-hat drum machine pattern that sounds like trap music on a bad acid trip. “Our Love Conducted with Shields Aloft” goes from weird drone track to wigged-out sound collage. Even the comparatively straightforward droning sludge of “Master’s Story” has an off-kilter funky drum loop in it. Needless to say, this is not a normal album. The two bands’ previous collaboration One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache was surely fairly out there, but it doesn’t have shit on Ascending. It was grounded by a relentlessly nihilistic aesthetic and (again, comparatively) cohesive song structure. Ascending breaks the tether and goes balls deep into extraterrestrial territory.

It’s honestly hard to say if I like Ascending or not. I’m not even sure it’s an album intended to be enjoyed in the normal sense. I find the experimentation interesting at times, but grating at other times. I do have to admit I liked the more “normal” songs like “Didn’t the Night End” and “Master’s Story” the best. Riffwise, Ascending is more or less a particularly droney sludge album. As much as I love sludge, some more powerviolence/hardcore would have been nice to change up the tempo (asides from the often ill-fitting drum loops). One thing besides the unrelenting experimentation I find a bit grating are the vocals. They are mostly handled by the dude from The Body, and to be quite honest, I really hate his style. His vocals are like particularly black metal rasps with all the distortion taken out of the voice. These yelps are unfortunately comparable to the vocal style often used in bedroom DSBM projects.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to know what to even say about this. It’s probably a worthwhile album even if it’s intentionally difficult and often sees to jolt from one experiment to another without any real regard for song structure. While taking risks like this is ultimately a good thing for developing new ideas and stumbling upon happy accidents, this doesn’t click with me the way their other collab does. What I will say is it’s better to take a leap and go balls deep in wild experimentation than it is to make a stagnant going-through-the-motions type album.