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Ascend The Hollow – Echoes of Existence (album review)

From their presskit I gather Ascend The Hollow is a “European-based, female-fronted progressive cyber-tech metal band with 9-string guitars, 6-string bass and modern electronic soundscapes.”
This definitely isn’t something I’ve ever heard of or am accustomed to.
I’m not one who gives a fuck about extra strings on guitars, cyber-anything, or modern soundscapes. This should be interesting.

They go on in the presskit to say they’re comprised of “musicians whose past achievements include support & touring slots with big names
such as Avenged Sevenfold, Soulfly, Xerath, In This Moment, The Agonist, Sirenia, The Birthday Massacre and Jinjer.”
I’ve heard of two of those bands.

Hey, let’s talk about me for one second. Let’s get into an ego-pumping-match! Here’s my press blurb: “This reviewer has opened up for David Allan Coe numerous times.” You can’t one-up me, people, I got you beat…

I might as well start with the line-up:
RAVEN (guitars, programming)
GEF (guitars, programming)
M-NOISE (vox, lyrics)
DAVEC (bass)

They go on to say what the album is about and who produced it. I don’t care about that stuff.

Let’s go into this with an open mind and see what I think about the music. I promise you – I’m ready.

Polaris Calling
It begins with an electro-buildup and I’m expecting terrible shit to follow but….IT DOESN’T. Heavy hitting double bass. Fear Factory slowed down with Marilyn Manson sensibilities. We get some clean singing that reminds me of Cradle of Filth when they’d alternate – but not shitty like whatever other band does it. This definitely isn’t emo or some other kind of garbage. It’s quite late 90’s black, which is extremely strange to me. I was expecting shit. And I got something that is pretty different, to my ears atleast – I mean, it even has a god damn good guitar solo in it when I was thinking it’d just be mosh trash with some pop punk sounding vocals! I’m surprised in a good way. We are off to a good start. I mean, this stuff isn’t really for me. I’m an old black and death metal fanatic. It’s for teenagers and I get it. If I had a kid, which I don’t and I’m glad I don’t, but if I did, and the kid brought this cd home… I’d think “Maybe my kid isn’t an idiot.”
Okay, Ascend The Hollow, you have my attention. Let’s see if you can keep it.

Vessels
A really hard hitting start to the song. Good blasts here and there of heavy metal double bass (not pop punk screamo double bass) and I’m starting to think if this band had songs about Satan, their poster would be on my wall. I’m reminded in parts of Hypocrisy’s early work and moreso Tagtren’s PAIN era. Lots of metal is mixed here into a nice stew that I enjoy feasting on. I like the alternating between singing and this weird black metal sounding growling. It isn’t the normal deathgrowl. I haven’t heard one pig squeal and I definitely went in thinking each song would have one. I like it. I appreciate the electronic stuff taking a backseat to being a decent metal band. This singer is really, REALLY good.

Mother of Morality
I had to read that three times to realize it wasn’t “Mother of Mortality.” I found that title pretty cool. We go into this song on a journey through staccato train track land but it evolves into black metal sounding vocals mixed with singing and it even gets thrashy in part.
2:35 and oh shit the cd is broken! But it isn’t; kind of a cool effect from left to right speaker and back again. I don’t know what to call this shit. Progressive cyber-tech metal I guess. I like when the drums get thrashed out like they do in this song. There is some questionably System of a Downish guitar in the moshy part but it didn’t make me want to kill anyone! So I’m going to call it “Human Remains” style guitar instead. The song comes to a point where it’s pure pop at the end and I enjoy that, so this band so far has treated me very good.

Sea of Crises
Am I listening to Ulver or something? Actually, I think that first part was on the first Pain CD. No worry as it completely devolves back into heavy fucking metal. The vocalist is clearly completely crazy. Lots of good layered harmonies here. I enjoy those and tend to balk at backup singers for the most part. I like when the main vocalist duets with themselves. This song has interesting fast guitar work especially around the 2 minute mark and beyond for a bit. Going back into mosh music and twisting through into swirling metallic maelstrom. Excellent and tasteful guitar solo. So far this team is able to make compelling noise.
Wait, is someone else singing in parts? Is that why it said featuring other people? Maybe she wasn’t harmonizing with herself. God damn it, I’m leaving the review in stream-of-consciousness-while-hearing! I ain’t changing that part. Whatever, I take back what I said. Good song ending with blastbeats. Very appreciated.

Into The Black Eye
There’s not much for me to say about this one except that I didn’t hate it. When you hear it you’ll know what I’m saying. Hey, I’m into black and death metal… I’m not the expert on whatever that was…

This Dark Rage
Metal! I like this song. I think this song is lyrically about a lecherous perv adult preying on teens. At least the part I could make out…
I love that, because it’s usually reversed. “Christine Sixteen” anyone? “Young Girl”? Yeah… this seems like a good answer to those kinds of things. This has some really fast double bass (Fear Factory again, but I loved Fear Factory) and it meanders from just “break it down chugging” into circles of concentric madness. I like the sentiment behind the song and the guitar solo again… give this guy a beer or a soda or a water, whatever he would like.

Swarms Within
Time to rave! Or rage. I can’t decide. Double bass again hits and a low, low riff of metallic anger starts chugging. I like the keyboard hits in there, reminiscent again of the poppier end of black metal. This song stands out for me. I don’t think every single tune needs the clean voice, and I don’t think every single song needs the black death growling either. I’d like one song with just one style, but I’m old and my opinion is irrelevant. I feel that this stuff is made for, and would sell fast, to the younger set. Interesing around 3:45, a little break that kind of slaps you across the left teste.

Prisoners of the Storm
Holy fuck. Now we’re talking – this is fast. This is the metal I have been craving but we move on to slowing down and doing the singing again. It’s good singing, though. I quite like how churchy it gets in parts and doesn’t deviate so far from metal (like, say, Nightwish and other trash) that I can’t stay into it. I have stayed with the whole album so far and let this be an eye-opener to me and people like me. You may think something is going to be so far removed from your personal taste by the description. Techno metal cyborg 20 string guitar stuff? Not for me, man. I’m too cool. Then you sit down and listen and find out you really like this genre – and here we go with another tasteful, rock inspired, guitar solo before shooting you in the head. Shooting you full of heavy fucking metal.

Repent, Rewind, Reset
Fading into clean vocal territory, and it’s fantastic. I wish the lyrics were about the Devil or beer but hey, I like when a band goes for a more cerebral approach. Kudos for that. Very good vocal performance in this tune. I’m interested in seeing this band live to see how they pull this shit off! Guitar solo is really good (again.) I keep repeating myself. There’s a formula at work on this album. A formula…that works for me.

C3lls
Just like the earlier song called “Into the Black Eye.” This is kind of just an outro, but it’s cool enough. I don’t know what else to say about it. It conveys a certain kind of hideously inverted loneliness.

I thought I would hate this but I liked it and I came out of the listening experience wanting to see the band play a show.
I think they should be headlining shows soon. The sound is right there at the exact point it needs to be at this stage in popular hard music.

Pretty fucking cool.

Official Website – https://www.ascendthehollow.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ascendthehollow
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/ascendthehollow
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ascendthehollow
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ascendthehollow
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/ascendthehollow
Reverbnation – https://www.reverbnation.com/ascendthehollow

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J.R. Preston

Active musician, the person responsible for - or involved with - cult projects as Tjolgtjar, Xexyz and many others, and the main person behind our wrestling coverage.

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