Solid State has become synonymous with the darker, heavier side of (mostly) Christian rock. Every year, the label releases three to four high-class and talented acts that either become a hot ticket item, or unfortunately fall flat on their face. Either way, they garner a large fan base and become another album on the metal-head's already large list. However, a major fraction of these releases do not necessarily appeal to the fans of more melodic rock, thus leaving them to await those artists that can cater to their ears. But those fans can once more scramble to their local music retailer for the debut of newly signed (yet by no means rookie to the scene), The Ascendicate.
Formerly known as The7Method, a break-up forced members Eric Marlowe (lead vocals) and Chris Wheat (drummer) to retool and look for new band mates, eventually nabbing three other guys who were playing in various bands at the time. An opportunity and playing time with renowned producer Travis Wyrick landed The Ascendicate on the Solid State label and, before too long, the release of their first album To Die as Kings.
To Die as Kings is a real treat in what appears to be a jam-packed genre. Competing for attention not only with fellow label-mates, but many other bands in both Christian and mainstream markets, The Ascendicate battles ahead of the mediocre while serving up some thought-provoking and catchy melodic tunes. The album kicks off with a guitar-crunching jam, "Scottish," which serves as a nice attention-getter. "You and Me" sounds like a harder, more aggressive form of a Red song; in other words, a more singing-than-screaming sorrow-turned-to-hope song. "Burden" starts off, in typical metal fashion, with a soundbyte from a movie (in this case The Exorcism of Emily Rose) which gives way to insane growling and thrashing, and then a powerful chorus,"Don't let this burden flee from me, till the lesson is complete, because the pain is changing me who I need to be. About the man I want to be, for all the ones that count on me, because the pain is changing me who I need to be." Continued reinforcement of these words and more organized chaos gives way to perhaps the best track on the album.
From then on, the album continues its pillage-and-burn style with growling verses and singing choruses (a la Demon Hunter or Killswitch Engage) until the dénouement track "I Obviously Can't Stop," which features a more confessional, slower tempo. Thanks to Marlowe's singing and the frenzied manner of the music, To Die As Kings rises above most, especially as a debut. While a majority of bands spend two or three albums trying to perfect their own style and sound, The Ascendicate seems to have its act together on its debut. Their polished sound and maturity are evident in every growl, every pronounced lyric, and every guitar smashing chord. If you enjoy melodic hard rock, but aren't necessarily a fan of the more chaotic symphonies often found in the genre, then The Ascendicate's rocking debut is worth checking out.- Review date: 2/16/09, written by Zachary Anderson of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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