Ascend is a glorious new musical collaboration between Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin) and Greg Anderson from Sun O))) and Goatsnake. In keeping with the sonic canvases of their respective bands, expectations that Ample Fire Within would be a dark and gloomy affair have certainly been confirmed. However, what really makes this paring work is not the duo's ability to simply recast their established sound and call it something new, but their desire to push their music out into new territories. This is primarily achieved by incorporating various subtle influences, such as jazz for example, as well as employing some rather un-metal instrumentation in order to broaden their overall scope. They've also brought in a few guests to help them achieve this.
Opening track "The Obelisk Of Kolob" kicks things off in grandiose fashion with it's massive orchestral feel and both symphonic trombone textures from Steve More (Earth), and a mind melting dose of buzzing, drone infused guitar work. From this auspicious beginning it's straight into the title track which begins with a rather lengthy serving of trippy, almost trance inducing Wurlitzer piano that eventually yields to more feedback soaked guitar, and what sounds like the cracking of fire, before the Wurlitzer returns to close out this seven minute monster. It is on this track where the listener also gets to hear the first taste of Densley's low and rather ominous sounding vocal textures. "Divine" opens with a return to the atmospheric Wurlitzer and Densley's snarling, guttural voice. This track sticks to pretty much the same musical format for about seven minutes before a brief trombone solo takes over to flesh out the sound for the final two minutes. "V.O.G." pounds out a slow marching style rhythm as layers of thick sounding guitar completely envelop the track. Guest guitarists Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) and Bubba Dupree (Void) contribute by adding their angular solos over top the hypnotic, chanting vocals. The album closes much like it began, with the monolithic twelve and half minute "Dark Matter", another pure, orchestral drone fest.
Ample Fire Within is an absolute behemoth from beginning to end and the music offered here will appeal to listeners that enjoy losing themsevles in a dark journey through uncharted waters. Hopefully Ample Fire Within isn't just a one off, and that both Densley and Anderson are up for collaborating again in the near future because this stuff is simply too vital to just end here.
1) The Obelisk Of Kolob
2) Ample Fire Within
5) Her Horse Is Thunder
6) Dark Matter