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Ascension Theory Review

Discussion in 'LotFP' started by Jim LotFP, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. Jim LotFP

    Jim LotFP The Keeper of Metal

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    ... having problems with uploading to the website, and I want to put something from The Shameless (published January 2007) up as The Nameless (hopefully late February/early March) gets closer to completion... and this one seems nice and incendiary.

    Ascension Theory
    Answers
    10 – 46:04​
    (review by James Edward Raggi IV)
    It takes a special kind of self-loathing to play, or enjoy, music that is nothing but a series of contradictions. Complex, yet song-oriented. Heavy, yet melodic. Aggressive, yet accessible. Metal, yet good-natured. It’s an impossible balancing act that even the best can never pull off for more than an album, maybe two.

    The problem is that the people who play this kind of music, and those that listen to it as their music of choice, hate heavy metal for what it is and think this “progressive metal” style uses what is “good” about metal and discards what is “bad” about it. The result is a bunch of pencil pushers, data jockeys, and other corporate office professionals being “creative” and making “progressive” “metal” about “important issues” with a sound that contains no real anger (that would be immature) or frustration (imagine what the wife or boss would think… they’re suspicious enough as it is since a *gasp* electric guitar is involved!), and no real progression either. Because “progressive” is a genre with a set of rules, you see, not an adjective that means anything resembling progress or real creativity. And the people listening to it are a bunch of pencil pushers, data jockeys, and other corporate office professionals expressing their appreciation for fine, intelligent, upstanding music.

    Basically, it’s a bunch of unhappy, repressed people involved in music that intentionally puts barriers between sound and emotion under the banners of intellect and maturity. It’s passive aggressive bullshit, all of it, and like most manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior, the best ways to deal with it are to just flash a bird and walk away, or beat the offending party to death with a nail-spiked bat.

    Dream Theater has much to answer for.

    And this brings us to Ascension Theory, a band that practices all of these contradictions and worships them by recording song after song with all of these problems on display. There isn’t a cliché left untapped by the three guys in the band, and every promise of heaviness is emasculated by some sort of floofery, puffery, or other some such faeriekin handicraft. They even have a song called The Way of Death, with an actual riff, and it seems like it’s going to be an actual metal song, but then some cooing woman starts singing about overpopulation.

    The tragedy is that some of these songs are so filled with hooks and good choruses (Saturn’s Reign, for one) that if the band would just go for it, in whatever direction (just pick one!), they’d be successful (and I’m not using money or record sales as a definition of “success” here). They have riffs. They have sugary sweet melodies. They have instrumental prowess. What they don’t have is a cohesive vision, their own sound, or any real emotion in their music. It’s fatal to all their efforts, and this album is a few scraps of good ideas and a giant example of all of the problems inherent in a “progressive” “metal” band.

     
  2. DoomsdayZach

    DoomsdayZach The Professor was right

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    This review is a thing of beauty. Cheers!!
     
  3. Farseer of the Benighted Land

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  4. Cheiron

    Cheiron Member

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    Because Manowar is so angry!

    Progmetal fits your definition of heavy metal better than most forms. Since it is a form where one pushes oneself to be a great musician, and just to be at that elite level. Its not like being a geek is very socially conforming anyhow.
     
  5. Jim LotFP

    Jim LotFP The Keeper of Metal

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    Progressive metal certainly fits the definition of heavy metal. "Progressive" "metal" isn't exactly the same thing... and there's lots more to the whole metal thing than musical prowess. Have you heard the Ascension Theory album?

    ... and there is also a difference between a rebel and a geek. A rebel chooses to not conform. A geek couldn't conform to save his life. I am both. :p
     
  6. Helm

    Helm Maybe on Luna

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    I don't even like Manowar, but they are proud, angry, thunderous and ocassionaly even savage (chants of 'kill with power! die! die!' aren't exactly civilised and sensitive). If you don't think so there is a slight chance that you pay too much attention to the form of heavy metal (if there's blastbeats and speed and tremolo picking and whatever else denotes 'heavy metal anger' from your point of view) and not enough to the aesthetic content.

    The review finds me in agreement. The "progressive" "metal" that Jim talks about I just call 'progmetal' because it usually has nothing to do with either being progressive, or being heavy metal.
     
  7. Cheiron

    Cheiron Member

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    Nope, haven't listened to it ;)
     
  8. BenMech

    BenMech student of the d'eh

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    It IS an excellent review.
     
  9. Jim LotFP

    Jim LotFP The Keeper of Metal

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