Before me today lays a new challenge – Drone. ASCEND is the product of a collaboration between Gentry Densley and Greg Anderson from bands such as ICEBURN, SUNN O)))) and GOATSNAKE respectively. I do not know what to expect as none of these bands are familiar to me, and I step into this new world wearing a white, stainless robe of no false pretence. From what I have read however, I expect this robe will soon be stained with streaks of gray, splattered in brown sludge and smeared with filth.
To describe ASCEND's music is about as easy as to describe seeing a bird being swallowed by an airplane jet engine in slow motion – you have a general idea of what went in, but it is hard to describe exactly what came out. Although the overall pace of this album is very slow and in time with Doom Metal, it drudges forward rather, weaving through a backdrop of noise and sludge. The vocals are somewhat of a strange fusion of the rough “bourbon and razors” throaty voice of TOM WAITS, the brooding malice of NICK CAVE, and the croaking whine of mid-nineties MY DYING BRIDE. “Ample.Fire.Within” was recorded with a number of guest artists, one of whom is former SOUNDGARDEN member Kim Thayil. SOUNDGARDEN played a major role in the development of the Seattle Grunge Rock scene and this influence occasionally enters the field as well. ASCEND also occasionally flounder around in Jazz territory, while the ambience and the occasional trumpet especially, conjured up memories of the latest offering of ULVER.
Anyone who likes their music simple and soothing should steer well clear of this lest ye be scarred for life. On the other hand though, this album is a sure bet for those who can see beyond the hypnotic noise and find beauty lurking within. “Ample.Fire.Within” is certainly not an album that will be easily accessible for the general population of the world, but those daring to get their ears dirty will be handsomely rewarded.
(Online June 5, 2008)