David Godwin – Vocals
Preston Bass – Bass & Vocals
Michael Martin – Guitar & Vocals
Nathan Elko – Drums & Vocals
Justin Krick – Guitar
Ascentia hail from Greensboro North Carolina. These five Southern musicians formed back in 2008 and have brought forth their first release in the form of a four track EP titled ‘Pathways’. The band have had nine years to hone their variety of skills and techniques together to produce something of merit, and with the launch of their EP they look to announce their intentions to the global metalsphere. They tout themselves as a progressive metal act, and for the most part it is an agreeable description; to a degree. There’s a whole host of varying styles going into the music, with a mix of heavy metal, breaks of thrash, plenty of groove and some fiery atmospheric formulations but the musical skill levels aren’t exactly going to throw the band up to the upper echelons of proggy greatness. Their music is highly likeable though and these four tracks offer plenty of interesting concepts and rather thunderous music.
The EP is split in two, between the two more uptempo tracks starting us off and the other two being more weighty and definitely more progressive. It opens with ‘Catharsis’ which for the first 10 seconds or so leaves an impression of “oh no, what fresh cheese smothered hell is this?”, but this impression is quickly purged once the forces combine to catapult the riff into a more agreeable system; mainly due to the ridiculously prominent bass coming through. The bass playing throughout the EP is stellar stuff and serves to add some extraordinarily greasy beef to the mix. After a worrisome start the song takes off with plenty of exemplary features.
The 2nd track ‘Revenge’ is a peach of a track with some highly catchy swings, breaks and grooves with some electric riffs energising the song with a real 80s feel. Quite reminiscent of Jake E. Lee’s work with Ozzy. At points the mix gets a little erratic with Nathan Elko’s work behind the sticks, whilst commendable, trailing slightly off at points but overall we get a really decent flux of credible music.
With all the production works being undertaken by the band, it’s interesting to hear what stands out, and as mentioned, the bass is inescapable but this is no folly. Preston Bass takes his charge honourably and conducts the rhythm section with a commanding array of skills. We also get a well presented display of David Godwin’s wondrous vocal range which is as emphatic as it gets. Could this man be the next Dio? A bold claim and massive boots to fill at such an early stage of the band’s career (release wise) but his style is very much akin to Dio’s and I’m sure that this is no mere coincidence. If you can then why not, eh? The other two tracks of this recording serve well to demonstrate this.
The third and longest track ‘Aphelion’ stands as over eight minutes in length where a bleak story is told with a weighty atmosphere. Last hopes of the human race, struggling through nights of the deepest cold. The song twists and shifts with some really potent breaks bringing life to their tale of desperation in the face of extinction. The leadwork comes off as a Brent Hinds meets Jerry Cantrell, so plenty of atmospheric groove and lively pitched notes flying about scraping our calcified pineal glands and shooting our brain loads up into the ether.
The EP finishes strongly with ‘Perseverate’ and like ‘Aphelion’, we get a slower build into the track. This is where Godwin’s vocals really get a runout but the band as a whole all have their individual merits. Some sheer fantastical culminations merge the styles well enough but the mix does lag at points, failing to capture the full potential of their instrumentations. The final track ends the EP quite excellently. The imagery is very inspired by the band and they have a very distinct sound which is praisable.
‘Pathways’ has been a funky journey (the good kind of funky), one well worth repeating. It will also be worthwhile keeping tabs on a band such as Ascentia. They definitely have something and although it may not be the most far out proggy music, it sure is likeable, perhaps even lovable.