Ancient Ascendant – Into The Dark EP
by Rich Price
Hailing from Reading and signed to Siege of Amida records in 2011, Ancient Ascendant are following rather hot on the heels of their excellent debut album ‘the grim awakening’ with this fantastic EP ‘Into the dark’.
They are a refreshing blend of black, death metal and more than a casual nod to traditional Heavy Metal. When listening to AA, they immediately reminded me of modern version of late Finnish outfit ‘Gandalf’, but with guitar work which hints strongly at ‘Melechesh’. It is also immediately clear that AA are more than capable of writing songs you’re going to remember for a long time, and probably with a sore neck.
Opening track ‘The veil’ is a rather nice, if sadly short, instrumental piece, which builds gradually, with some lovely guitar work. It’s evident immediately that there’s a significant improvement in the production quality from ‘The Grim Awakening’, Courtesy of Dan Swanö (Opeth, Dark Funeral, Bloodbath, Marduk, Katatonia to name but a few).
When Alex Butlers powerful low growls and savage snarls come in at the start of ‘blood calls’, they contain so much effortless menace that one can only imagine that if he ever had reason to ring customer services to complain about anything, whichever unfortunate soul answered would probably end up being treated for post traumatic stress disorder. One can only hope that when not performing on stage he uses this awesome voice to flay the skin from cold calling PPI companies.
Combine this with the guitar work courtesy of Nariman Poushin and Alex Butler which is intricate and complex, yet understated and almost hypnotic melodies, hammered home by a solid rhythm. You have no choice but to bang your head and play air guitar it’s simply automatic.
Third track and first official video ‘Driven by the dark’, is at six minutes the longest track and features some great riffs, which alternate between a slow and fast tempo throughout. It’s a good track but lacking somewhat in the elaborate guitar work that are the signatures of the other tracks feature, as a result when played alongside the other tracks on here it’s overshadowed, but fortunately only ever so slightly.
Track four ‘Casting the Shroud aside’ is much more in keeping with the sound for the rest of the EP and the rhythm section of Alex Webb and Dave Moulding is a force to be reckoned with, they put forward relentlessly solidly crafted rhythms and grooves, which have no hint of the over the top mechanical elements a lot of their contemporaries go for.
When ‘Under Ancient Stone’ kicks in it is quite literally stunning, an absolute powerhouse of a song, a multi layered assault of melody, groove, and brutality which encapsulates the AA sound perfectly. If you’re not banging your head quickly enough, this song seems capable of grabbing you and banging your head for you.
This is one of those EP’s that you’ll immediately want to listen to again, with quality craftsmanship throughout, and it grows with each listen.
BUY IT, BUY IT NOW! This is one purchase you will not regret in the slightest.
Some previously unpublished shots from this year’s performance on the Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock: