To Solemn Ash

Written by: PP on 26/10/2011 05:42:44

Rising have long been at the forefront of the new wave of Danish metal bands who have embraced the evolution of the music scene by breaking out of the confines of 'lets write as heavy, un-trendy and un-melodic music as possible for the sole purpose of head banging' style of writing that dominated the sound of Denmark for as long as I can remember. It's also one of the key reasons why they are starting to enjoy success outside of the boundaries of this country as well. Thus far, the band have proven their ability to write catchy and hard-hitting sludge songs on a couple of EP releases, but the question has always been whether they're able to write a full length's worth of great songs to really have their international breakthrough. "To Solemn Ash" is their first attempt at answering that question.

Although by definition sludge metal is a muddy and ugly style of music, it's still possible to write (relatively) melodic and catchy music in the genre while still sounding muscular (High On Fire) and progressive (Baroness, Kylesa). But where bands like Rwake go for an atmospheric depiction of despair and painful loneliness through miserable howls and a focus on moods and painting landscapes in the listener's mind, Rising rely on a solid rock'n'roll groove as the core element in their sludge metal expression. Here's where the High On Fire reference comes to mind, and why not also bands like Down and Pantera given their love for high-powered groove metal providing the base to their sound. The vocals are roared at the listener like waves hitting against the shoreline, giving an ambitious sense of space and ambience to all songs on the album. When the band succeed in combining the two with just the right amount of melody, such as on the brilliant "Sea Of Basalt", "Hunter's Crow" and on "Through The Eyes Of Catalysis", they are impressively catchy given the genre that they are in.

However, the problem Rising have on "To Solemn Ash" is consistency. In the midst of the great tracks just mentioned and a couple of others, there are tracks that, despite their will to overpower the listener through thunderous roars, are anonymous and forgettable. Tracks that fail to incite enough interest in the listener to form a lasting connection to the songs. It's not a huge issue, but enough to create a feeling of the tracks blending in with one another into a grey mass especially on the second half of the disc. So to refer back to my original question whether "To Solemn Ash" is a tour-de-force in sludge metal songwriting, well, that depends. If you look at the album with red-white glasses on, the answer is yes, because it is most certainly one of the finest albums in the genre to come out of Denmark. But once you take them off, the album proves Rising are still some way away from the international heavyweights in the genre. But they are closing the gap, so the jury is still out on whether they'll have an international breakthrough soon.

Download: Sea Of Basalt, Hunter's Crow, Through The Eyes Of Catalysis
For the fans of: High On Fire, Kylesa, Down, older Mastodon
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.10.2011
Exile On Mainstream / Target

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