Features Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin) and Greg Anderson (Sunn0))), Goatsnake, Engine Kid) with special guest appearances by Andy Patterson (Iota), Steve Moore (Earth, Sunn0)))), Bubba Dupree (Void) and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)!
While this collaboration with Gentry Densley (Iceburn, Eagle Twin) is slightly less prone to indulge in Sunn0)))'s droning, ambient soundscapes, it's still unconcerned with traditional song structure and the like. It serves as a solid companion piece to Sunn0))).
All of the usual deeply layered, unbelievably dense, strummed harmonics familiar to most of you from Sunn0))), Goatsnake, Burning Witch, and so forth are present on 'Ample Fire Within' in spades, but Ascend is a damn sight more accessible to the general listening public with additional, lighter-toned soundscapes thrown into the mix. Deep acoustics somewhat reminiscent of Earth, eerily distorted Greg Anderson trademark vocals, some great moments of trombone (all too fleeting), organ, and even a Wurlitzer make themselves known on an album that really thrives on all of the variation present. In addition, some of the songs are backed up by a pounding, still glacially slow, percussion from Andy Patterson, thereby giving some needed structure to the exercise.
Ascend is particularly noteworthy in that their style of drone has wonderful contrast drawn between songs with all of the different instrumentation. In addition, subtle changes within an individual song are so seamless that an entirely different sound slowly emerges across a song as the listener is drawn in. Those changes may not entirely register with the listener at first, and that is a fleeting quality that really caught my notice.
In short, Ascend is drone of the highest caliber and will appeal to anyone already interested in the Southern Lord drone pantheon. The lighter moments of 'Ample Fire Within' will also allow Ascend to appeal to those of you that may find Burning Witch and so forth a bit unpalatable.