Amiensus – Ascension (Self-Released)

Sunday, 5th July 2015
Rating: 10/10

Amiensus’ first full-length, late 2012’s Restoration, set the band up for big things. Atmospheric black metal with folkish and melodeath flourishes gave Amiensus an appeal that almost anyone could get into. They continued the high-water marks with a split with like-minded Minnesota metallers Oak Pantheon towards the end of 2013. Ascension marks Amiensus’ second full-length album, and to say that they’ve grown leaps and bounds doesn’t really begin to cut it (particularly when Restoration was so good).

Ascension takes what Amiensus does well and really amplifies and diversifies it. There’s also plenty of contrast and balance. There are moments of utter heaviness followed by ethereal beauty, flashes of sadness and joy, and crushing rage and regret. The entire album works as a rollercoaster of emotions that grow and enrich with each listen. There are so many influences that the task of dissecting them all seems pointless. The lush and melodic tracks like “Time is Growing Old” and “Towards Horizon” are quick to resonate with the listener, with excellent use of acoustic guitar (especially in the former) and layered clean vocals. But even within the heavier tracks, such as the powerful closer “What Evil Lay Dormant” and visceral “Divine Potion of Acumen,” the sense of melody is impeccable. They can integrate delicate melodies into segments of brutal blast beats or switch gears entirely on the drop of a hat.

There should be some special attention paid to the vocals of Ascension. There is careful thought and planning to the integration of clean vocals in each track. The way that they are layered within the mix (and performed by multiple members, both male and female) gives them a dream-like quality that most bands cannot touch. The way that they mesh with the screamed vocals in a track like “One in Spirit” is simply chilling.

From start to finish, Ascension is a jaw dropper. The level of composition and musical ability that Amiensus employs frequently fuels the rage within while maintaining a high emotional complexity. Rare is it to find a band that can perform and give equal attention to both. Lock this one in as one of the finest offerings you’ll hear this year, from bands both signed and unsigned. Amiensus have definitely ascended, and will hopefully continue to soar to even greater heights in the future.

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