AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Re-released almost ten years after its debut, This Ascension's sophomore outing has been regarded as a recording of near mythical proportion since its disappearance from the Projekt catalog in the mid-1990s. Tears in Rain, the band's debut, appeared just in time to fill a goth-sized hole was created by the passing of guitarist Wayne Hussey's band, the Mission. When Light & Shade appeared in 1992, This Ascension captured the state of the dark gothic imagination with a unique sound that featured caterwauling, over the edge guitars (courtesy of Kevin Serra), and a multi-octave female vocalist in the shape of Dru. With silky, layered keyboard textures and knifing six string seductions, Dru's voice swoops ands soars, whispers, croons, and careens around and against the music to create the eerie, lost in time aspect of This Ascension's sound. Standout tracks include "Fearful Symmetry," with its Joy Division guitar line from "Day of the Lords," and "Ill Met By Moonlight," with its profound sense of loss and barely contained longing. Dru's voice sings counterpoint to Serra's riffing, offering a cry and moan sort of feel before the entire things rushes into the maelstrom in the chorus. If goth's your thing, you're already excited by this re-release; if it's a genre you're interested in, this is about as good as it gets — especially in America. — Thom Jurek
This Ascension is to me one of the groups that have helped define what Gothic Rock and Gothic Ethereal music is today. They've been around for quite a few years now and have been quite successful with four albums and various compilation appearances. Well, the journey is far from over for this group with more to come. Formed in 1988 with the idea to play and release their music, they released the album Tears in Rain
just five months after forming. They later released Light and Shade
which is more relaxed, ethereal work that has been very popular over the years. Again they released two more albums Walk Softly, a Dream Lies Here
and finally, four years later, Sever
All of the above albums were released on Tess Records, one of the great Gothic Rock labels during the 90's. Unfortunately, as many people have heard over the past few months, Tess Records no longer exists. Despite this sad news, we have good news for This Ascension fans, and especially for those that may have missed this band the first time around. Projekt Records have signed This Ascension and have already re-released their first two albums...
Light and Shade. The second album from this awesome band touts a more mature sound, that focuses more on the Ethereal music. With less harsh, driving beats, but still showing a lot of intensity, this album is a gem for fans to have. You'll be taken on somewhat of a roller coaster ride through the dreamy sounds of Dru's voice and the great guitar driven music. With the intense sounds of "Ave Maris Stella" to the very "Siouxsie sounding" Return and finally ending with Exit which portrays a great mix of synths and guitars with the same riffs evident in other tracks. The ride has ended and it was enjoyable. Of course, I can't finish without going on about my all-time favorite track from this great group. "Chameleon Room" has long been a favorite of mine. I'm not sure what it is that makes me enjoy it so much. Perhaps it's the dominant bass line, or the catchy rhythm that just makes me move wherever I'm at. But, I think it's a mixture of all of these things, and of course the lush, siren-like vocals of Dru. Whatever it is, I will enjoy this track for many years to come.
Delivering powerful, guitar-driven goth instrumentals paired with gentle female vocals often more akin to mesmerizing incantations than singing, This Ascension immerses you in a shadowed world of hazy hues sketched from your deepest fears and dreams. Tears in Rain
and Light And Shade
were This Ascension's first two albums, released in 1989 and 1992, respectively, and now available again from Projekt. Both albums have much to recommend them, although overall Light And Shade
is more polished, with haunting operatic singing from Dru (unfortunately somewhat muffled in the recording process) that reminds me a bit of Lisa Hammer's amazing vocals for Requiem In White. Kevin Serra's shimmering, sinuous guitar work shines through on both albums, with perhaps a bit more of a rock-ish attack on Light And Shade
Still, my favorite track from both albums is actually on Tears in Rain -- "Poor Mortal Lost." Starting with dark, echoing drums, thudding bass and funereal synth, and plucked jangly guitar notes shimmering like raindrops in the moonlight, the song paints a picture of a black night with endless rain falling from your eyelashes down your nose to splash in muddy puddles at your feet, while a beguiling maiden, innocent and pure in her white lace nightgown, fluttering slightly though there is no wind, takes your hand in hers and promises she'll save you while the heartbeat pounding in your ears deafens you to the whispering voices warning you to "save your mind and save your soul: beware of her."
A similar epic, "Ill Met by Moonlight," graces Light And Shade, with chiming synth and guitar like magic moonglow shimmering as a breathtaking figure with emerald eyes and white lace gown circles a faery ring with her hands stretched out to the sky, the music ebbing and flowing with the tides of the frenzy of her dance. "August Rain" has a truly haunting guitar melody, slow-strummed and melancholy, that has stayed with me ever since I first heard Trance to the Sun's version of it on their 1994 album Ghost Forest. And the album-closing instrumental "Exit" sends chills down my spine with its spooky synth, muted roar of guitars, and pounding drums and bass, evoking a dance of death in a forgotten graveyard, or a lonely fog-shrouded highway at night, or a shattered plain leading up to jagged mountains and gaping ruins beneath a leaden sky.
A review from Rockpile Magazine (Aug 2001):
Though this haunting record was recorded 10 years ago, it sounds as thought it could just as early have been recorded in the Middle Ages or a post-apocalyptic future. Those familiar with the more theatrical end of the dark metal/goth spectrum will have a decent point of reference for this release, however, even those coming to this fresh will still find This Ascension's music inviting and engaging. Haunting, synth-driven melodies undulate between gothic grooves and '80s-style new wave. Kevin Sera's guitar work could easily rework a tune from 'Til Tuesday or The Cure, while the enigmatic, operatic drone of vocalist Dru boasts a croon reminiscent of a darker Siouxsie Sioux. String accompaniments stretch the band's sound, adding to the orchestral feel of Light And Shade. - Chris Lawrence