Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: Rising - To Solemn Ash (2012)

Rising [Website | Facebook | MySpace]
To Solemn Ash
Exile on Mainstream

Rising - To Solemn Ash
Anyone familiar with the Exile on Mainstream label knows that their artist roster typically includes some rather avant-garde and sludgy doom types. If such a repertoire is not your style, with more traditional metal and doom bands in line with your tastes, don't let the label steer you away from Rising's full-length debut To Solemn Ash. A refreshing blend of inspirations ranging from Black Sabbath to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and High on Fire, To Solemn Ash is gritty, catchy, and a promising start to a new year of heavy metal.

Denmark's Rising - a trio comprised of Henrik Hald on bass and behind the mic, Jacob Krogholt on guitar, and Jacob Johansen behind the kit - formed in 2008 and in a relatively short time has skillfully cultivated a sound that draws heavily from classic metal sources yet is equally reliant upon the distinctive atmosphere heard in contemporary sludge. Chugging, fuzzy riffs are driven by crushing beats enveloped in crash and hi-hat while Hald's gravelly vocals are simultaneously insistent and forlorn. The inclusion of Maiden and Priest-like harmonized riffs heightens the accessibility of Rising's sound and results in To Solemn Ash being a groovy, thunderous, and melodic experience. Even Hald's singing is engaging in a Pandemonium-era Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke) sort of way, his overall gruffness softened by tuneful expression and occasional harmonious refrains.

"Mausoleum" gives To Solemn Ash a robust start with dark, scratchy riffs and driving beats - two core components that are common to every song on the album. Krogholt hints at his fret ability on the opener with a brief solo, but really expresses himself on tracks like "Cohorts Rise" and "Passage". Paced somewhat slower than the majority of the mid-tempo tracks on To Solemn Ash, "Cohorts Rise" is no less engaging due to its swirling riffs, mellow beats, and a bit of a post-metal atmosphere. Traditional doom enthusiasts will be pleased by "Seven Riders", a song with familiar plodding riffs and abundant gang choruses, while "Heir To Flames" finds Rising briefly exhibiting a bit of a progressive flair with some intricate riffing. "Hunter's Crown", with its classic twin-guitar leads and a darkly psychedelic solo also introduces some tremolo riffing and fleeting deathish growls to Rising's style.

I hesitate to go so far as to pronounce To Solemn Ash a groundbreaking album, but I will confidently declare it to be an excellent work of metal that ably combines many of the genre's styles into an interesting, enjoyable and memorable experience. What better way to start the new year than with an album that will appeal to such a wide spectrum of heavy metal enthusiasts?

Track Listing
2Sea of Basalt4:49
3The Vault4:08
4Cohorts Rise6:14
5Hunter's Crown4:50
6Through The Eyes of Catalysis4:04
7Under Callous Wings5:29
9Heir To Flames5:22
10Seven Riders5:57
Total Runtime50:14

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