Ascendancy – The Amazing Ascendancy Vs. Count Illuminatus

Album titles that are needlessly long aside, have you ever wondered what would have happened if Dave Mustaine had made a progressive power metal band instead of Megadeth? I don’t know the answer either, but Ascendancy definitely come pretty close to the possible results.

Coming in with the sonic palette of Stratovarius, the lyrical cheesiness of Dream Evil ala Dragonslayer, and the vocal stylings of the aforementioned Dave Mustaine, Ascendancy wobble along the thin line between theatrical drama and satire. Driven by heavy synth work, bottomed out guitar riffs, speedy high end interludes, and hard, focused percussion, Ascendancy craft a sound simply dripping with sci-fi influences. There are many moments in the album that almost seem to be designed as a soundtrack for a final boss fight in a video game, particularly the moments with backing choral vocals layered in, giving the high drama feel. This is where Ascendancy really hit their stride.

It is always a blast to hear an album where it actually sounds like the band had a fun time making it, which is evident in The Amazing Ascendancy Vs. Count Illuminatus, through the liberal use of the keyboard, the guitar whipping out a solo on a moment’s notice, and lyrical content rich with fantasy creativity. The one place where Ascendancy have a bit of a downfall is in the range of their vocalist who has a clear limit on what he is capable of, sticking mostly to the grindy Mustaine vocals, with the occasional group, electro passages sounding similar to Threshold. Being able to muster up a much wider (read, higher) vocal range would only help to further attain the dramatic, epic feeling they seem to be shooting for.

While the sound may not be perfect or overly new and fresh, the album is still a lot of fun to listen to. Ascendancy bring an endearing level of energy into their sound that makes me wonder if they can do the same live. Overall, super nerdy, but also super cool, making for a great listening experience.

Ascendancy – The Amazing Ascendancy Vs. Count Illuminatus
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Presiding over the frozen tundra of Ontario atop his mighty polar bear of war, Steve seeks out the metal that he claims, “has a sweet groove, dude.” His musical tastes were raised by his father upon the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Dio, but it wasn’t long before he began tuning his ears to darker and stranger avenues. Finding solace within the domains of prog, stoner, and power metal, he continues to make expeditions into genres unexplored, delving into their history while keeping an eye peeled on the horizon for rising stars.

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