Ascend
"Ample Fire Within"

(Southern Lord 2008)Ascend - Ample Fire Within

In a strange, otherworldly dimension, there exists a dark and terrible world. Populating this eldritch void are grotesque, primeval monstrosities; quasi-Egyptian, quasi-Lovecraftian deities whose existence consists of taking sacrifices, swallowing hope, and shambling. Lots of shambling. And what dominates these fearsome horrors' iPods? Doom metal. There's no better soundtrack to protracted periods of sowing misery than the depressing vortex of a good doom record. And saturating the playlists, surely, is Ascend's "Ample Fire Within," the brainchild of downer rock veterans Gentry Densly and Greg Anderson.

Setting the table is "The Obelisk of Kolob," which opens with the dense, plodding lurch you'd expect from a doom album. It builds to a modest swell before it abruptly ends, which is more annoying than effectively jarring. Following is the droningly mystical title track, a dark invocation of the very creatures the song reflects. The drowsy melancholia of "Divine" is mostly a showcase for Densly's asphalt-gargling vocal performance. "V.O.G." shows just how heavy Ascend can be, as an absolutely elephantine riff plows through thorny guitar squealing and zombie-like chanting. "Dark Matter" is epic in its ambition, but the execution hesitates just before reaching the sprawling heights is seeks.

While "Ample Fire Within" is perfect for great old ones and elder gods, it's a bit of a tougher sell for puny humans like us. It's by no means a bad album, but it feels slightly unfocused. Yes, I realize this is a doom album, but Ascend sound as if they are unsure of exactly how far, and in what direction, they want to push the doom aesthetic. Still, they know their way around a memorable downbeat riff, and this is perfect for anyone out there looking to get their shamble on.

B

buy it!