Robert C. Kozletsky
Germany's Ascension deliver another incredible album of dark art. Under Ether could possibly be my favorite album of theirs to date. Easily one of my favorite black metal bands around today. Their vocalist possesses one of the most powerful voices in black metal and stands out from the rest. Thank you Ascension and WTC for bringing this into the world.
Favorite track: Vela Dare.
Beginning life in 2007, this German black metal cult have been a patient study in fire and faith, to paraphrase their 2010 EP. Every step of the way, Ascension's move has been deliberate and decisive, with nothing left to chance; truly, their canon has developed organically, but with a steadfast trajectory in mind. The first full fruition of their fire and faith came with their debut album, Consolamentum. Released in 2010 under the auspices of W.T.C., Consolamentum quickly became a modern classic of orthodox black metal. They once again precluded an album with EP, as Deathless Light followed in 2014 before the successive second full-length, The Dead of the World. Here, Ascension took their already iron-willed orthodoxy to greater heights/depths with an ambition that betrayed their young years as a band. And once again, they rightfully reaped critical acclaim for it. There was no turning back...
Indeed, Ascension have crossed their own Rubicon on Under Ether. Still staunchly BLACK METAL to the bitter end, here, the band's unbridled ambition takes them on a journey to the most haunting hinterlands of their pitch-black sound. Like gleaming obsidian, Under Ether reflects (and refracts) a kaleidoscopic array of hues, each darker than the next. It all coalesces into a hideous swarm - or, to reference an ever-apt song title, "Pulsating Nought" - that, despite its usually teeth-gnashing intensity, displays a cool/calm/collected knack for dynamics: space and shade are laid bare across this treacherous landscape.
After the suitably stage-setting intro, each of these seven sins rushes onward with an almost-disarming ease, Ascension within the churning maelstrom directing its every malevolent move and sulfurous shudder. Further, they've expanded their melodic arsenal here, with evocative leads often taking center stage; other times, riffs are colored by cleaner tones that nothing less than soul-searing. Completing the totality of Under Ether is stalwart production, courtesy of Michael Zech and V. Santura: warm and feverish and totally analog, but possessing a palatable clarity that allows every detail to ring true. Gleaming obsidian, indeed...
With a full decade under their belts now, Ascension are no longer plucky newcomers; with Under Ether, they've truly become masters. Prepare to go under, deeper than ever...
released March 30, 2018
Recorded by Michael Zech and T.NGL at Englsound Studio
Vocals recorded by V. Santura at Woodshed Studio
Mixed and Mastered by Michael Zech and V. Santura at Woodshed Studio
Artwork by Dávid Glomba
Ascension Sigil Invocation by T.P
Layout by Dávid Glomba and Thorstein
All Music and Lyrics through Ascension
Produced by Michael Zech and Ascension
Why do people like this music? Because they hate how it carries them away? How it transfers sound into inner peace? How it is right on, as a combination of all right sounds and tempo; like a violent peace that it is?
I just don’t know. FakeFur777
A corrosive mix of death, doom, psychedelia, and black metal, the Portland quartet’s debut full-length is a bona fide underground monolith that shapeshifts with each listen, all while maintaining its essential heaviness. Bandcamp Album of the Day Feb 1, 2019