[commuter review] REVERENCE – The Asthenic Ascension

Lately, I’ll be honest, symphonic metal has kind of fallen by the wayside for me. So when I got into the first track of this album, the first couple of times, I was a bit hesitant. Then, waiting for the train, I had it playing in my ears with a backdrop of Aussie birds. It made the whole experience very different, much more eerie and evil. These guys are black and symphonic and experimental. The latter is important because they have presented us with an artwork deserving of close attention.

The black metal elements are all nicely handled. Kicking off into track two, and then throughout the release, the integration between the symphonic, the black, and the strangely clean, is completed with aplomb.

It’s an interesting album for a commuter. I found that it was frustrating heading to work with this accompaniment. The train was too slow for it for some reason, but kicking along at a good speed it was more satisfying.

This is, too, perhaps just my perspective, given that the trip back home (facing the weekend no less) was better. In a car, interestingly, it wasn’t so good. You have to pay attention to The Asthenic Ascension to get the most out of it. Also, and this is an important point, you get more from it in a headphones listening session. There are things going on within harmonies, samples, and general construction that you appreciate more with a closer listen.

Towards the end of track four, aptly titled Psalm IV, the screaming and sobbing woman was a lovely contrast to the fresh sea of armpits, in which I was immersed in such a normal setting as the commuter train. It did actually cause me to think that, somewhere in the world, all of us regular jackoffs are going to work while some bastard is torturing someone, probably in a scummy outpost in suburbia.

It was a sobering thought. But it was presented, dare I say it, in a mature and thought-provoking sort of way. It’s the kind of thing that metal is great at: firing people out of their normalcy and bringing something new to one’s consciousness. I doubt that other people will have the same reaction, but it was significant enough that it threw me into spinning vortices of philosophical thought.

REVERENCE have brought us an album that is excellent in and of itself. It’s a grower, too, I think. With subsequent listens, its hooks claw themselves deeper into you. Unlike some bands, whose albums grow on you over an interminable amount of time, I think that this one will grow to a point. It’s excellent but it isn’t outstanding.

I haven’t thrown this album into a shuffle either. Its tracks would be good in one, but the album deserves to be held as a freestanding piece of art.

All fans of the eerie, black, symphonic will get something out of this. And I even suggest that in a series of albums, it would be bookended quite nicely by SIGH’s early works, up to and including Scenario IV.

I’m not going to comment on how The Asthenic Ascension fits into the discography because, incredibly, I haven’t heard it. I will, though, now. I’ve been impressed enough to go and find as much as I can. And that alone is recommendation enough for this release.

REVERENCE’s The Asthenic Ascension is out on 9 April 2012.

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