Ascension - The Dead of the World
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
7 songs (55:59)
Release year: 2015
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat

Following up the buzz generated by 2010's Consolamentum, Germany's Ascension follow in the orthodox black metal path laid down by earlier dark luminaries as Watain and Funeral Mist, and do so very well. Opting for a crawling chaos approach, the dark rumbling that forms many a black metal backbone is here surprisingly accessible, having the slower-paced melodies of Secrets of the Moon at moments, but never afraid to let loose the restrained beast. As a result, The Dead of the World is an album that's immediately familiar to fans of the style, as well as one with its own approach that makes for interesting listening. Mid-paced opener The Silence of Abel simply seethes, the initial whispered vocals setting a creepily ominous atmosphere as the melodic riffs echo.

Even a burst of speed about the mid-point of the track doesn't seem to elevate it into a song as opposed to an introduction to the album, but it's a hell of an intro and the following Death's Golden Temple is even better, initial doomy riffs soon losing their sharpness and forming a queasy backing to the almost incantatory vocals. It's something like a blackened Morbid Angel before the speed hits and the performances become more deranged, a blackened symphony by the second half before a breakdown into widdly guitar lines, all very Watain-esque and immediately gripping.

That's not something that can be said for all of the songs here, sadly. Mid-album five-minuters like Black Ember and the oddly directionless Unlocking Tiamat don't feel like the band at their strongest; Ascension are definitely better at slower, more atmospheric pieces. And the second half of the album is much stronger than the first, with the crushing waves of Deathless Light followed by the faster, almost Marduk-esque fervour of The Dark Tomb Shines, which has some wonderful soloing. The best track on the album, however, is the longest; the closing ten minuter Mortui Mundi, which features the best riffing and atmosphere and brings the album to a close well.

Almost too well; by comparison some of the earlier tracks definitely do not measure up and can make the album seem almost dull in moments, especially given the near-hour-long playing time. Ultimately, Ascension need to discover their own, original voice before the hype about them being one of the decade's best new black metal bands is true, but they've released two good albums now, and it's not a stretch to imagine their third being a real masterpiece. Fans of atmospheric black metal will find much to appreciate in The Dead of the World.

Killing Songs :
Death's Golden Temple, The Dark Tomb Shines, Mortui Mundi
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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