It’s been some time in waiting for Southern four-piece Ancient Ascendent to release their first full-length record but they have awoken with The Grim Awakening. Formed in 2005, they’ve had a number of high profile support slots with the likes of Bolt Thrower and Fleshgod Apocalypse and released one demo and a couple of EPs.
Firstly, with only tentative prejudgments based on an album cover, you just really hope that the epic artwork of some powerful out-of-world beast with a trail of destruction surrounding it will be the prelude to a colossal record too.
As far as death metal goes – and it always has been a genre restricted by its own pretension towards wild experimentation or diversity – The Grim Awakening does more than the average record. It’s hardly Morbid Angel syndrome at all, but while Ancient Ascendent stick primarily to ordinary measures, there’s dosages of prog on a relatively confined scale that works undoubtedly in favour of the London/Reading band.
Originally, it is of some surprise that Bleeding In Exile momentarily cuts into a peaceful, proggy interlude, but it’s nevertheless refreshing.
So-called ‘technical’ guitar work of death metal that usually constitutes to a flailing speedy mess of shredding is a saturating problem in this genre, but not where these guys are from. There’s method and thought in their guitar picking that make them almost more accessible than your average Carcass or Obituary record. Brutal blasts are held in such measure too. Though clearly a technical drummer Dave Moulding doesn’t decide to fly off the handle and ruin the spectacle throughout the record but especially in Ravenous Undead Of The Dead and follow-up Forced Insight. The ending minute of Titan finishes the record with a majorly crushing, sludge pace, departing with a thumping, dark charisma.
This isn’t quite getting close to the progressive side that typifies Opeth’s kind of DM – it’s more thoroughly brutal, and if you’re on the lookout for a neck-snapper with only touches of prog, then this is it. A fine debut for the UK DM scene to dissect. CR