Ample Fire Within
posted on 8/2008 By:
Ascend is the latest concoction from Southern Lord records stalwart and full-time SunnO))) member Greg Anderson and his latest compatriot Gentry Densley. Ascend is not at all removed from what SunnO))) does, which is provide the listener with feedback friendly, lurching, monolithic drone riffs with various methods of instrumentation alongside it. In fact, Ascend is basically SunnO))) with Gentry Densley subbing for Stephen O'Malley. As a die-hard SunnO))) enthusiast, I'm happy to take part in this listening adventure and Ample Fire Within brings the noise, literally.
The first thing to note is the differences between Ample Fire Within and anything SunnO))) has done. First to notice is the presence of drums throughout the album. While the drums don't play an altogether vital role in the music, they are there and occassionally lay down a solid doom thud to compliment album moments like opener "The Obelisk of Kolob" and closer "Dark Matter". There are also healthy portions of vocals on Ample Fire Within, mainly from Gentry Densley but Attila Csihar (Mayhem, SunnO))), Tormentor, Aborym, etc.) provides guest vocals on the title track, which is also the album's finest moment.
Everything else is a very Sunn(y)O))) affair. There are trombones and other horns throughout, most prominently on "Dark Matter". "Divine" is a bluesy song that sounds like it wants to be somewhere between 16 Horsepower, Morphine, and Leonard Cohen. The song is unfortunately a bit too long and Gentry Densley's drawl is a little difficult to take seriously. Unless you compare it to the drawl of Morhpine's Mark Sandman and the song maintains a bit of a quirky "indie" cred. Overall, it's a lull moment for what is otherwise a streamlined and slightly accessible affair. It should also be mentioned that there is a very healthy serving of super heavy droning guitar here. This probably goes without saying. It does wet the appetite for a new SunnO))) release and if this is anything to do with the direction they're headed, then there's no reason to worry.
Ample Fire Within is a pretty solid affair and if you're a fan of SunnO))), you can count on liking Ascend. The subtle differences are just that and there's nothing here to make the listener scratch their heads outside of the unnecessarily long "Divine". Although Ascend does and will stand on their own, their debut is a tasty appetizer to a new SunnO))) album and deserves the attention of almost any ambient/drone nerd.
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