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Upon first listen, labeling Denver band Ascendant as “modern” metal would seem appropriate. They certainly meet genre criteria for blending melody and ferocity, showcasing punishing riffs and soaring leads; alternating between attack and allure. This is where the comparison ends and they part ways with their contemporaries.
Ascendant has deliberately sidestepped the pretentiousness (and boredom) of complicated-for-its-own-sake, machine-bred math metal. Unlike the competition, they don’t seek to overwhelm with sheer brutality; staving the overly-triggered, synthetic violence of grindcore and thrash. Ascendant pours their energy into one avenue: the building and perfection of the song. They’ve managed to engineer a sound that is both past and present.
Band members Gene Ballard (guitar), Zack Norton (drums), Leon Gaudin (bass), and Jason Livingston (throat and lungs) are all veterans of the Denver scene. Their music honors metal influences spanning the last several decades. Song composition is a nod to the complexity of progressive rock, the unbridled energy of power metal, and the nightmare volatility of black/death metal. In the midst of this, Ascendant’s killer grooves are foundational and catchy; choruses and hooks a central component. Ascendant weaves themes of darkness and light into tight succinct structures that are powerful and memorable. Although not reinventing the wheel, they’ve added much-needed, sorely missed vitality back into the existing one by reviving the long-lost art of songwriting in heavy metal.