ALBUM REVIEW: Raise The Torch – Ancient Ascendant

Throughout their career Reading based death metal deviants ANCIENT ASCENDANT have achieved what some bands can only dream of, supporting such prestigious acts as BOLT THROWERHYPOCRISY and ENSLAVED amongst others and they are hoping to continue climbing up the ranks with their highly anticipated follow up to 2014’s Echoes And Cinder entitled Raise The Torch which brushes the dust off the textbook of Death Metal and throws it straight into the shredder.

Despite being labelled as a death metal band they defiantly refuse to be pigeonholed as they throw a little bit of everything into the mix. On first perception this concept sounds potentially disastrous but somehow the quartet have devised a devastating blend of boundary shattering metal. ANCIENT ASCENDANT seem to have hit that sweet spot where they can display high levels of aggression but still maintain an upbeat and lively vibrancy, opposing the preconceived notion of the mandatory requirements to be a successful death metal band being that you must be gruesome, down tuned and consistently angry. Scaling The Gods is the albums first curve-ball which kicks in with a very Stoner rock style tempo incorporating groovy black metal tinged riffs alongside the raspy screams of frontman Alex Butler with a little bit of cowbell and a round of clapping thrown in for good measure. Perplexingly it all gels magnificently.

The proceeding track Unearth continues the unpredictable variety with its chugging, overlayed riffing made infamous by the Gothenburg death metal movement before increasing the tempo with bouncy, sprightly guitar work. Despite this Grasping The Torch is quite possibly the biggest surprise with it’s flamboyant 80’s glam rock pace and intricate solo work which breaks down into a very chilled bass driven, jazzy interlude before hitting you right in the face with a string of rapid blast beats courtesy of Dave Moulding. A little bit of ‘normality’ is resumed with the infectious, anthemic album closer To The Cold as its steady pace and memorable, juggernaut like riffs penetrate your airwaves bringing a more standardised approach to end the proceedings.

A lot of bands in the extreme genre’s have a tendency to take a ‘hell for leather’ approach which in result causes a lot of the magic and technicality to be consequently lost in the whirlwind of carnage but everything about Raise The Torch feels purposeful and intentional. ANCIENT ASCENDANT have boldly trusted their instincts to create a mesmerising and accessible array of diverse tracks which have you guessing at every instant.

Rating: 9/10

Raise The Torch - Ancient Ascendant

Raise The Torch is out now via Candlelight Records.