Ancient Ascendant – Raise the Torch (Candlelight/Spinefarm)Thursday, 20th April 2017
Entombed’s 1993 Wolverine Blues was the approximate moment when rock and roll became comfy bedfellows with death metal. Before, death metal lacked swagger or even humor. It was (deathly) serious and gruesome music for people who thought thrash was too tame. “Death ‘n’ roll” effectively leveled all of that out, giving DM a more palpable and groovy edge, easily reflected on Wolverine Blues and its spawn: Dellamorte, Desultory and Gandalf. (Note how none of these bands made much of themselves.)
Somewhat in the same vein and mind is U.K. bashers Ancient Ascendant. Formed in 2005, the band was signed by Siege of Amida for the release of their 2011 The Grim Awakening and were subsequently shuttled up to Candlelight for 2014’s Echoes and Cinder. Their new Raise the Torch figures to fare better than the aforementioned pair, with the band kicking out high-energy, un-technical, but well-crafted tunes, some of which throw in cowbells, shakers and that oh-so-necessary pure rock bravado.
Cuts like “Our Way” and “Unearth” provide the necessary serve-and-volley between extremity and immediate rock jostle. “Our Way” in particular stands out because of its well-adorned chord rings and neck-snapping moments. “Unearth” unfurls a bit of a Southern swamp rock feel, while “Grasping the Torch” are somewhat like how Everytime I Die would sound if they were in the throes of pure death metal. That’s the kind of swivel these songs are on.
Raise the Torch connects because Ancient Ascendant rarely wander away from their primary sound. Yeah, they’re a death metal band to the core, but you’d get the impression these gents are a bit more comfortable getting down with ‘tude-loaded jams minus the technicality. They can thank Entombed for that.