In the words of Varg Vikernes “It has nothing to do with Satanism” which may well be true for a lot of Black Metal, particularly the earlier tones of for example Burzum. However that doesn’t mean that the shadow of the beast hasn’t been present since the genres inception, looking at the likes of Venom and Mercyful Fate the hand of Lucifer has been firmly stamped on these early influences. Going even further back we can look to Iron Maiden and even Black Sabbath, Satan has always been present in Metal and when you go around burning churches as a Metal band draped in black robes and corpse paint it won’t take long for the media to latch onto the hellish tritone of the underworld.
So what has this led to, well for one it has led to an influx of so called Orthodox Black Metal where Satan is at the heart of everything. Bands such as Funeral Mist, Ondskapt and Enthroned have pushed this sound and passion. Now we come to speak of worshipers Ascension formed in 2007 their history is paved with two previous full length as well as EPs. Under Ether is the bands third full length release put out through World Terror Committee but does it rise or fall at the altar?
The haunting, not overly long intro track Garmonbozia sets the tone nicely before heading into the Extreme Metal chaos of Ever Staring Eyes the first of many mind blowing tracks that exhibit a definite Orthodox sound, with killer riffs, drumming and sharp agonizing vocals which tease the realms of even Death Metal at times. Ecclesia is a further example of the unique vocal tones, like a rotting corpse dug up from the ground the vocals spit cobwebs through the mangled teeth of the deceased, pure and true in every sense.
Instrumentally Under Ether doesn’t let up displaying elements of technicality in Pulsating Nought and Vela Dare a kind of technicality which isn’t overbearing or unnecessary, rather impressive and distinguished. These longer songs on the album also prove that Ascension have the power to command the listener, none of these tracks feel drawn out dull or boring, instead they bring into the mix a wealth of excitement and refreshing extremity.
All in all Under Ether is a very strong album, I cannot fault anything Ascension have come to show that they aren’t newbies anymore, they are champions in the realms of hell and they know it. Bow before them or forever taste their steel. This is a Black Metal release not to be missed and one which will surely see Ascension rise to the next sub level of the underworld. So if you like your Metal extreme, Satanic and brimming with new life then Under Ether is the album for you.
(8/10 George Caley)