In 1999 Projekt reissued the out-of-print fourth (and final) album from Santa Barbara's This Ascension. Their most diverse and spectacular work to date. Sever combines all the stylings of ethereal alternative rock, replete with lush instrumentation and heavenly vocals... with the power to keep you on the edge of your seat. Produced by John A. Rivers (Love and Rockets, Dead Can Dance), Severinfuses world-music instrumentation, soaring angelic vocals and driving rhythms into the ethereal-goth realm of independent rock. This fourth album has truly been worth the wait!
Newly reissued by Projekt, Sever is the fourth album by California gothic tribe This Ascension, and as such it stands as an evolutionary step from their two previous efforts. Whereas the earlier records relied on atmospherics to provide a dimensional extension of the music and lyrical considerations of Dru and guitarist Kevin Serra, Sever concentrates on sheer musicality to get Dru's soaring crystalline voice through a drum-heavy, guitar-laden mix. On "Fuego Cavendo," as Dru lilts atop the rhythm section -- augmented by gorgeous keyboard work by Tim Tuttle -- putting emotion itself forth as the basis for atmospheric framework, Serra punches in with overdriven guitar exotics to cap her lines and carry her into the refrain. In contrast, "Mysterium," sung completely in Latin, is a six-string, processional anthem. Dru sounds positively regal as she intones and then cascades down the basslines and drum rolls. Dynamic elements, such as faded echo on the vocals and cavernous silences sit along side Serra's screaming axe work. The emotional landscape here is also more mature, than on previous offerings. Dru's poetic self-confidence shines forth in the economy of her lines and in the unforced vulnerability of her cadences. Elements of folk, early music, traditional European court musics, and stripped down rock push on the gothic walls of their aesthetic. This is a well assembled record that points toward new directions for This Ascension, it showcases a band whose restlessness and rock & roll sensibility has emerged rather than been subsumed by their immersion in the darkwave scene. If there were even one rock radio programmer worth a damn in this country, she or he would have seen to it long ago that this band get a chance to have their music heard by the masses. But clearly, one might as well ask for a Phoenix to rise from the ashes of the dead. In the meantime, enjoy this recording from the underground for what it is, there are too few like it. -Thom Jurek
A review from Dark Realms Magazine:
Sever is a strong release for This Ascension in the fact that it has proven to attract more than just the goth crowd to its flame. Dru's voice raises to angelic heights, relating experiences in human emotions we all share. Although all of This Ascension's music is incredible and should be sought out, Sever stands as their strongest CD to date. Beautiful and emotional, it is an experience to be felt.
A review from In Music We Trust:
Definitely, the latest CD from This Ascension is their greatest to date. The sounds are melodic and refined. It is obvious by listening to Sever that through production and the creative process every detail and musical assemblage was tediously put together with an air of perfectionism. All ingredients selectively intertwined exude becalming atmosphere and sincere emotion.
[summary] Sever is highly complicated rhythms combine with precisely played strings and keyboards to provide a mesmerizing and beautiful sound. Dru's vocals are heavenly and sweet, angelic from on high. This Ascension has surely shown how a band can improve and grow in a dozen years' time. It begs one to ask how long before a more accurate band name, such as Done Ascending for example, will be needed to better describe the beautiful music this tightly knit group creates... The meld of their musical skills is perfect.
It's amazing how the lessons of the Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance are still assimilated today by an impressive number of projects, a sign that with the passing of time, the two bands are rising to the level of real, genuine 'classics.' But the surprising part is that you rarely find sterile attempts at imitation. Instead, often re-workings of certain fundamental components of theirs have much to offer. This is the case with This Ascension, which in Sever undoubtedly harken back to their predecessors, starting with the impeccably lovely crystalline female vocals. At times they approach Siouxsie, then take on an unmistakably personal style. The clearest element is the accentuation of the medieval atmosphere that is so often found in the genre. This is still the darker middle ages, where the immensity of the Roman Church's spoils have not yet given way to gothic bombast, a middle ages dominated by abbeys. And listening to the two pieces sung in Latin, "Mysterium" and "Columba Aspexit," we imagine scenes from these monks' daily life, overwhelmingly pervaded by the sacred. Lyrical moments of huge impact-"Forever Shaken" and "Fatal Dawn"-- contribute to the suggestiveness of Sever, as does the Celtic "I Wish," while with the last track "Carol of the Bells" we return to a heavy decadent atmosphere. It's an exceptionally well-produced work, occasionally harsh sounding as in the guitars of the opening "Fuego Cayendo" or the instrumental "Amapola." In all, a record that undoubtedly deserves more than one distracted listening.
This Ascension blends shimmering synthesizer and guitar sounds with an uncommonly complex and powerful rhythm section, layered with dynamic, heavenly vocals. This Ascension's gothic-like alternative rock music achieves a worldly sound fusing lush instrumentation and soaring female vocals with moody acoustic effects. Again laced with layer upon layer of Dru's soaring vocals, it is sure to attract and entice many listeners of this ever-expanding genre. Their fourth album has truly been worth the wait and should be sought out as it is a highly enjoyable listen.
A review from Outburn Magazine:
I have been waiting for this record since I first heard these ethereal-goth giants back in 1996. This album is a culmination of all the prior This Ascension releases... yet better! With crystaline production by John A. Rivers (Love & Rockets, Dead Can Dance), Sever really shines... It may have taken them five years to put together, but this album is something for the ages, a true signpost blinking out in the murky underground.
Each of the band members shines with the skillful excellence of their musicianship. There is such a cohesive tone to the CD that one cannot help but be mesmerized by the beauty and ease with which they are able to transport the styles in which they weave. Theyíve created a sound that seems as if they rehearsed this work even in their sleep, until every nuance was to make sure that this would be a lasting and enduring classic for years to come. In today's music scene, instant classics do not usually come along that frequently. Sever is a classic that will be the litmus test for all bands to compare themselves to in the future.