On first listen to this quartet of tunes, one may forgive Ascentia for dubbing themselves prog metal. Don’t get me wrong – this IS proggy, and it is most definitely metal/hard rock. But it is oh, so much more. I, for one, am eagerly anticipating a full-length outing from these blokes. There are two long ones and two short ones. Tunes, that is. The order varies from one source to the next, so I will go with what I was presented with initially.
Incidentally, Ascentia hail from Greensboro, North Carolina, and they were formed in 2008. Their personnel is as follows: David Godwin on lead vocals (and very clean, straight vocals for the most part), Preston Bass on bass and vocals (how appropos), Michael Martin on guitars and vocals, Nathan Elko on drums and vocals and Justin Krick on lead guitar.
First up is Catharsis, an uptempo jam and unfortunately one of the shorter numbers. As is evidently the norm for these fellows, they pack a lot of punch in a few minutes. This number is only three-and-a-half minutes, but they get a lot accomplished in that relatively short span of time. Catharsis is an uptempo jam with heavy-as-fuck riffing and excellent vocal work.
Perseverate is one of the longer numbers (6:44), and begins life with a bit of doom and gloom for all you folks who like their jams a bit darker than most. It reminded me a bit of Hawkwind or maybe even earlier Alice in Chains, only heavier! Only a minute-and-a-half in and we get our first guitar solo, a tasty blues jam that will make the hair stand up on your neck. This is fairly heavy stuff, and a bit disjointed at times but still pretty cool despite the messiness. Some folks think Keef of the Stones is a sloppy lead player, but look how well he did! At 4:20 David decides to go skyward with his vocals, which gives way to another guitar bit at 4:35. Five minutes in he resorts to screaming, followed by another guitar solo. Big finish at the end, of course!
Aphelion (a point in the orbit of a planet when it is furthest from the sun) is up next, and it is a rambling beast at 8:16 in length, and features another cool doomy intro with heavy bass licks. The production seems a bit muddled herein, but other than that, both thumbs way up! There is some pretty decent riffing here, but the track doesn’t really seem to go anywhere from whence it began. Ah, well, nobody’s perfect. At four minutes in we get an instrumental breakdown jam, then a nicely delivered guitar bit at six minutes. A good track overall but perhaps a bit long…
The final track, Revenge, features a big guitar opening with both axes wailing away. This is a total guitar jam that unfortunately ends far too soon at a robust three-and-a-half minutes. I was again reminded of perhaps a slightly heavier Alice In Chains. At 2:30 I was noticing the disjointed, chaotic proceedings I had noticed above, but it still works somehow. The vocals break down and do a bit of a growl to accompany the relatively clean vocals. Another big finish and we are done far too soon. Hopefully these blokes will do a full-length recording soon.
To recap, they may not be completely prog, and they may not be completely metal. They are a meeting of the minds of those two, if you will, and they serve both genres proudly!