The follow up to the 2016 release “Worship the Grave” sees Osnabrück’s Melodic Death Metallers, Dawn Of Disease return once again to bring riffs, harmonies and growls in an effort to give those pesky Scandinavian’s a run for their money in this particular brand of music. With their previous album clocking in at a solid but respectable 6 out of 10, showing some signs of promise but an overly common sense of familiarity and seeming to be heavy, but that being just about it, “Ascension Gate” is the band’s chance to step it up.

And instead of stepping up, it’s more of a stumble. Once again, the curse of the ‘Atmospheric but ultimately pointless instrumental’ strikes in the form of opening track ‘Passage’, and as you can guess by my general disdain, it doesn’t transition into the subsequent, MDM-By-Numbers ‘Perimortal’. It’s got your usual hooks, harmonies, tips of the hat to the 90’s Gothenburg sound and the usual, but it just doesn’t catch the attention the way it should.

‘Leprous Thoughts’ and ‘Beneath the Waters’ have their moments. The first of the two has some serious At The Gates influence plastered across it and it does show some of the fierceness the band have showcased in the past, and the second of this pair of tracks helps push in the more melodic aspects of the heavy approach, but again, it feels all too familiar and MDM-By-Numbers.

It’s only in the later stages of the album where things break from the norm and actually become interesting. The sheer aggression and ferocity in tracks like “Akephalos” and “Fleshless Journey”, adding speed, power and intensity to the almost Omnium Gatherum like sound the band conjures acts as a much needed wake up call, and the colossal sounding closing track, “Mundus Inversus” nails the album down nicely, giving some length, complexity and heavy atmospheric sensations as a curtain call on what ultimately is an album which took too long to get off the ground.

Much like the last time, Dawn Of Disease are simply there. Not excelling or standing out, but not being terrible. Just predictable, familiar and exciting in brief bursts.

(6/10 Fraggle)