Review Summary: A fresh quintet from San Diego whose debut is a struggle for clear identity.
Have you ever heard of this band? ...Didn't think so. So since you don't know them, let's shed a little light on them to begin. This Velocity/Rise Records addition consists of:
Xander Bourgeois - Screamed Vocals
Richard Rogers - Clean Vocals, Guitar
Michael Sherman - Guitar
Marc Koch - Bass
Joe English - Drums
Risen out of obscurity, The Ascent
is a record that will tear you in two very different ways, sometimes consistently in one song. One side uniquely contagious punk-sounding clean sections led by Rogers, and the other as breakdown-clad Risecore of course not without the assistance of the unfortunately named screamer (Bor-gwah? I'm no French expert.) The Risecore aspect is appropriately uncreative, but with slightly unconventional breakdowns that now and then would have my head banging. The noticeable impression that is left on me is specifically the cleaner efforts. The album was recorded by Tom Denney, formerly of A Day to Remember
, and it is reflected quite obviously throughout. While never particularly soothing, this entire aspect of The Ascent
is a striking success.
The flow of this album is somewhat confusing, for instance the transition from "Blindside" to "The Hardest Part" always bothers me because it seems like a brief pause in the same song before a second part. The openings of "The Oath" and "The Heartless Part" (uncreatively similar to "The Hardest Part"..) also throw the listener off and has them saying: "Didn't I already pass this track..?"
for a few seconds before reaching the next part. And now and then i'll find myself at an abrupt stop to scorn the pathetic lyrics. Whoever is guilty of the criminally disdainful lyrics for this band sounds like Jeremy McKinnon at age 12.
I'll use analogies and simple melodies
To tell you you're changing and it's not a good thing
I only wish you knew the good inside of you
Could conquer the darkness and your heart could stop this
That chorus ruins the opening track for me entirely. When, if the chorus was corrected, would make it to be my favorite on the album. But regardless of painful lyrics, The Ascent
has a few great moments to be proud of. "Somewhere in Hiding" flows nicely by itself, with a catchy chorus, steady verses, and the ability to be light/heavy at the right time. It moves you nicely through and by the split-section in the end, you won't even realize that it's just another cheesy love song. Directly after it is the fan-favorite "The Heartless Part", which is rightful in it's recognition. Featuring effective vocals, the right amount of headbanging and a lovable, fast-paced chorus, it sets itself apart from the rest of the tracks along with it's preceding track. Right after "The Heartless Part" is "40 Below" which, while not as noticeable, is another standout song.
After the next track ("Melodies",) the record drops off into par for the most part, but leaves hope that this band will be regarded among the special few on Rise Records that are not "generi-core" or "risecore". It also breeds fear in the same fashion that they could very well regress into generi/rise-core or drop off the planet by writing The Ascent: Part II
. Considering the dangerous amount of fodder on their debut, anything but progress would ultimately mean condemnation to the risecore hell, where no band has yet to escape once sentenced. So for now, keep an eye on these guys.
- Catchy all around
- Unique vocals, worth watching if they improve
- Breakdowns keep me guessing
- Must establish a firm identity, no medium
- Too much fodder
- Creativity is very flipswitch