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Ample Fire Within

Ascend

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Album Review

Metal thrives on collaborations and side projects in the 21st century (and well before it — only hip-hop rivals it in terms of the amounts of such projects released or circulated), and Ascend is one of 2008's contributions to that particular legacy. Gentry Densley and Greg Anderson's work in such bands as, respectively, Iceburn and Sunn have taken care of any question of credentials, and with performers such as drummer Andy Patterson, Steve Moore, and Kim Thayil pitching in, the whole thing is a Southern Lord label lovefeast par excellence. And sounds it — the opening deep howl and trudge "The Obelisk of Kolob," enjoyable if unsurprising, practically defines the label aesthetic — but as Ample Fire Within continues things get a little more distinct and unusual. Sometimes it's not always fully successful — the bluesy downward wallow of "Divine" is clearly meant to be a long, slow string-out of a performance, but aside from the sprinkle of Moore's keyboards around Densley's growling rasp, it's an endless trudge without ready resolution. But the title track, with its spindly introductory guitar melody before the drums and feedback wallop in, not to mention Densley's buried, quavering vocals, succeeds much more effectively, as does the monstrous "V.O.G.," the track Thayil guests on, with Densley's steady singing a rhythmic chant against a massive, burbling and cyclic feedback riff that wears its Black Sabbath-derived mantle well. Meanwhile, Moore gets a specific moment of glory with his trombone work on "Dark Matter," heralding the change of the track from an understated contemplator to a slow burn snarl, drums leaping to prominence and the whole becoming a masterpiece of carefully focused sludge.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '70s

Vocalist Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin, etc.) and guitarist Greg Anderson (Goatsnake, Sunn 0))), Burning Witch, etc.) were both involved in the American underground doom/drone scene for nearly two decades before pairing up in the collaborative project Ascend. When the opportunity finally arose via 2008's Southern Lord-released Ample Fire Within album, the duo reached out to a number of likeminded musicians (including Void guitarist Bubba Dupree, former Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, and...
Full bio
Ample Fire Within, Ascend
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