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| 29 December 2014 | Reply


Label: Tragic Hero Records

Release Date: January 6, 2015

Rating: 8/10

Reviewed by: Mike Hubbard

We’re seeing quite an increase in bands performing acoustic remakes of non-acoustic songs.  The idea has of course been around for a long time, reaching its zenith in the ‘90’s with MTV’s Unplugged series.  Who can forget Nirvana’s performance on that show from 1993?  The concept has also reached the iconic Van’s Warped Tour, with the inclusion of the ‘Acoustic Basement’ tent for small, intimate, acoustic performances from some of the bands on the tour.  Often times these acoustic renderings are simply similar arrangements played on acoustic guitars rather than electric, but A Skylit Drive chose not to take the easy route when developing ‘Rise: Ascension’.  Billing it as an acoustic version of their 2013 full length ‘Rise’ doesn’t give it justice.  The band has completely remade the tracks in a style that is far removed from their post-hardcore roots and uncovers a whole different side of the band and the songs.

The timing for such a stylistic departure is apt, considering that founding members Brian White (bass and unclean vocals) and Cory La Quay (drums) left the band in October 2014.  Whether this album was a cause of the split or an effect is hard to say.  But what is easy to say is that the remaining members, led by vocalist Michael Jagman and Guitarist Nick Miller, have created something beautiful in ‘Rise: Ascension’.  Each track is completely reworked and rearranged.  There is no hint of the hardcore elements of the originals.  The use of orchestral strings is used liberally but judiciously to enhance the experience.  The new rendering sounds completely natural and really brings out the emotion of the lyrics.  Jagman’s vocals had matured considerably on ‘Rise’, and that maturation is further evident on ‘Rise: Ascension’.  It’s in this format that his abilities can truly be appreciated.  This transformation can be best heard in the track ‘Pendulum’.  The original track was strong, but the ethos of the vocals just opens up in the acoustic version.  Stripped bare of the obligatory breakdowns and screamed vocal echoes, the sincerity of the desperate pleas of ‘Keep your eyes on me, You can’t leave this way, Please stay with me, don’t turn away, This is not your time, you can die another day, Hold on to me, don’t leave me’ comes through in a fresh way.  The title track ‘Rise’ was arguably the highlight of the original 2013 release, and it is just as powerful on ‘Rise: Ascension’.

A few of the tracks, including ‘Pendulum’, ‘Rise’, and ‘Shadows’ can be found streaming now, but the entire album will be released on January 6, 2015.  Be sure to give the released tracks a listen, and look forward to the full length after the New Year!  The band has also announced that they will be releasing new material in the summer of 2015, as well as extensive touring starting early in the year.  I for one am looking forward to hear where they go next!




Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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