To Solemn Ash
posted on 12/2011 By:
With its full-length debut, To Solemn Ash, Rising serves up a trad / sludge / rock / doom / stoner metal amalgamation that is difficult to categorize, but easy to absorb. Rising hails from Denmark, but the band seems to draw influence from a broad spectrum of American metal bands, from the atmospheric sludge of Yob to the pounding fury of High on Fire and the leaden grooves of Crowbar.
In spirit, Rising shares much with doom and sludge, but its music, though suitably heavy, is much livelier than is typical of either genre. Rather than heaving slabs of oppressive riffage, Rising opts for choppier riffs that gallop, lope and swagger, but rarely crawl. Lone guitarist Jacob Krogholt is a busy man -- in addition to the rhythm tracks that make up the spine of each song, extra tracks of harmonized melodies, solos and acoustics are woven into the mix, making for a very big sounding record, especially for a trio.
Vocalist / bassist Henrik Hald’s vocals are more typical of the sludge genre; Hald works the sensitive tough guy angle with a gruff but tuneful bellow that sounds like a more melodic Kirk Windstein. Rising’s songs are structured in such a way that the vocals feature prominently, and Hald does much better than expected with what is really quite a limited vocal range. Much like the guitar performance, Hald makes use of layering; his lines are frequently doubled and even harmonized, making for a surprisingly dynamic and effecting performance.
To Solemn Ash is full of pummeling riffs, but as evidenced by the album’s two standout tracks, it is the subtleties that make the record succeed. “Through the Eyes of Catalysis” finds Krogholt’s fingers dancing across the fretboard, whipping up a swarm of stinging hammer-ons and pull-offs; when drummer Jacob Johansen joins in to match him note for note, the intensity reaches a fever pitch, giving the song a frenetic energy in spite of the mid-paced chug of the album’s rhythm track. “Passage”, on the other hand, is all about the groove. The track starts with some heavy-handed riffing reminiscent of High on Fire, but the chorus section kicks into a groove that struts like Seventies Kiss, cuts like Eighties Priest, and positively compels you to move some part of your anatomy.
With To Solemn Ash, Rising has distilled myriad influences into a sound that is at once familiar and unique. The band tempers the heft and brutality of sludge and doom with enough trad-metal finesse to render an exceptionally listenable record that still hits hard. In all, To Solemn Ash is an impressive debut, and Rising is a band to watch.
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