Chris and Flight on Ascension's 'Under Ether'

March 29, 2018


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The Pitch: W.T.C. Productions presents the return of underground black metal sensation Ascension, with their third album, Under Ether. "Like gleaming obsidian, Under Ether reflects (and refracts) a kaleidoscopic array of hues, each darker than the next." FFO: Svart Crown, Helleborus, Inquisition

Flight's Take: I actually credit Ascension as being one of the bands that really got me interested in following black metal consistently. Their debut LP, Consolamentum, was incredible. It was an album that utterly destroyed me with it's all-consuming sound and Satanic imagery. Unfortunately, the sophomore follow-up was a bit of a letdown; not terrible, but far from living up to the high expectations and ultimately lingering into obscurity. Under Ether ends up falling somewhere in between these two releases. It has stronger compositions and performances that are overall more engaging than The Dead Of The World, but it still can't live up to the suffocating intensity of the debut. I hear glimmers of hellfire on tracks like "Vela Dare," but by and large this sounds like any number of other black metal albums I have heard in the past year or two. A bassier production treatment a la the last Svart Crown could make all the difference. Bonus point though for another Twin Peaks reference in the title of intro track, "Garmonbozia." Appropriate imagery for an album steeped in evil.

Flight's Favs: Ever Staring Eyes, Vela Dare

Chris' Take: 2014’s The Dead of the World found Ascension pushing outwards towards lengthier arrangements that had methodical pacing and dense atmosphere. It was a change of pace from their debut that still had some of the violent and chaotic moments but ultimately went towards a more grandiose display of darkness that sometimes felt a little long-winded. Four years later the band has returned with Under Ether, a leaner effort that bridges the gap between both of their previous albums. There are still plenty of the slower, methodically paced riffs where the atmosphere builds slowly but they reach greater heights and are broken up by some of the most aggressive instrumentation Ascension has displayed in recent memory. A few moments still drag slightly and Under Ether does save some of its best ideas for the second half, but this is ultimately another strong showing and much better than your run of the mill black metal. Plus the vocals continue to overwhelm in the best way possible.

Chris' Fav's: Thalassophobia, Vela Dare

The Verdict: Under Ether isn’t quite one of the best black metal albums of the year but is still a worthy effort overall. “Vela Dare” comes close to capturing the fury of Consolamentum but Ascension still hasn’t topped that monster of a debut. Under Ether is out now from World Terror Committee.

-Review by FlightOfIcarus and Chris Dahlberg

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