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Rising - "To Solemn Ash" (CD)

Rising - "To Solemn Ash" CD cover image

"To Solemn Ash" track listing:

1. Mausoleum (4:21)
2. Sea Of Basalt (4:36)
3. The Vault (4:02)
4. Cohorts Rise (6:01)
5. Hunter's Crown (4:37)
6. Through The Eyes Of Catalysis (3:51)
7. Under Callous Wings (5:16)
8. Passage (4:34)
9. Heir To Flames (5:09)
10. Seven Riders (5:44)

Reviewed by on February 5, 2012

"Sneaking onto U.S. shores with little fanfare, Rising’s debut album 'To Solemn Ash' has a groovy sludge sound that someone who is into High On Fire would find favorable."

Sneaking onto U.S. shores with little fanfare, Rising’s debut album “To Solemn Ash” has a groovy sludge sound that someone who is into High On Fire would find favorable. The trio doesn’t hesitate to toll away at riffs that always have a high energy quotient. Subtly is not their strong suit, as these songs nail home the blunt heaviness. Like being spoon-fed motor oil, it doesn’t go down easy, but the band jams it down the listener’s throat until the taste becomes bearable, even strangely appealing.

Like many first albums, the band finds a singular direction they stick with, while occasionally breaking out of their tight bubble. “Mausoleum” encompasses the most important qualities that Rising wants to get across throughout the 50 minutes of “To Solemn Ash,” features that repeat on the other following tracks. This includes build-ups with a sense of danger, and shouty vocals from bassist Henrik Hald that harmonize with guitarist Jacob Krogholt. The band does just enough instrumentally to avoid this structured songwriting falling to pieces, and they have great chemistry as a unit.

A lot of the songs may share similar themes and sounds, but when Rising gets going, it’s best to sit back and enjoy the punishment. “The Vault” and “Hunter’s Crown” have the riffs to complete with the big men of metal, and the latter gets special notice for finding a way to make a riff that’s been heard in many variations somehow gets the body moving. Tending to groove-crusted metal yields many mid-tempo sections, with the blazing “Passage” a notable exclusion. A shredding closing solo will provide many ear orgasms as a result.

After three songs of hammering sludge, Rising decides to bring in much-appreciated melody on “Cohorts Rise.” The band still retains their stubborn aggression, though it takes much longer to witness it underneath the gentle acoustics and restraint from Krogholt. The closing two tracks, “Heir To Flames” and “Seven Riders,” take a same course of action with their flights of melodic glory. The duo pushes “To Solemn Ash” to the end without just dishing out lukewarm ideas from the first half of the album.

There haven’t been many bands from Denmark to perform this style of music, and Rising doesn’t let that deter them from making a launch for the success on the level of a Mastodon with “To Solemn Ash.” There are clues that Rising could be a formable group, with the lengthier cuts and faster paces showing the band in the best possible light. However, it’s rough around the edges, and the band just doesn’t have enough experience together to make the mundane songs anything more than passible. Still, “To Solemn Ash” is worth venturing into for those who enjoy the rugged, bruising side of metal.

Highs: Has a groovy sludge sound that's hard to resist, band knows how to hit hard in the riff category, select melodic touches help to give the album depth

Lows: A few songs become indistinguishable near the end, rough around the edges

Bottom line: A strong debut that will appeal to fans of bands like High On Fire and Mastodon.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)