Have you ever wondered what the resulting combination of Industrial, Electronic, Progressive, Death and Modern Metal would sound like? I know a fair few folk who would feel nauseous at the prospect of just imagining it whilst others would try to work it out.

Well, this question can be answered!

Ascend The Hollow are a four piece Cyber-Tech; Progressive Death Metal band and if you’re trying to wrap your head around what that would sound like, think Symphony X styled progressive metal delivered with the nasty and harsh edge of (Current) Arch Enemy, all to a backdrop which ranges from NiN to Rhys Fulber to Alec Empire. Basically, it’s a really heavy way of playing electronica inspired progressive death metal. With plenty of vocal dynamics, 9 string guitars, 6 string bass and a gratuitous use of computer based generated rhythm section legwork, there is a lot going on, so let’s just get on with it.

As mentioned above, it’s heavy on the music front, just by listening to the first minute of the opening track “Polaris Calling” you can feel just how heavy it is. The obligatory sample-based introduction gives way to a mammoth sized wall of fierce screams and low register riffing. Fast paced and packing plenty of intensity, the track is a clear statement of intent for what to expect musically on this release. The electronic composed sections hold up well, the drum parts sound pretty much like you would expect from a band of this genre, nothing is ridiculously complex or ‘unplayable’ by a single person and the symphonic elements which create the sprawling backdrop for all the heaviness is fluid – it rises and falls, adding that subtle edge where needed or providing the main melodic voicing where contemporary approaches wouldn’t have the same effect.

“Vessels” plays out a little more on the groove driven front, packed with plenty of churning and crushing riffs and using some robotic-inspired vocal effects to add a little extra edge to the mix, but still retaining that fierceness where needed. “Sea Of Crises” is probably my pick for track of the album. Opening up with a synth-based line which has a slight techno-vibe to it, the track suddenly explodes to life with a frantic pace. Packed with low register riffs which rumble like an earthquake and a scathing vocal assault in the verses, the track has a borderline brutal death metal feel to it before it suddenly opens up into a massive sounding, uplifting chorus which is a total contrast to the rest of the track. The dual-layer vocal of guttural and melodic clean works great with the shifting chord progression, giving the track a jolt of energy and making it a real ear-worm.

If you dig a little deeper, you find that the tracks aren’t just surreal and futuristic sound inspired. They’re actually pretty fucking dark; the album deals with subjects which fall into the realms of mental disorders and the darker sides of human nature (abuse/rape/murder etc). Opening track Polaris Calling is actually about mania and depression and the musical delivery reflects this well, “Swarms Within” is a polyrhythmic headwrecker which is based on trypophobia – the fear of irregular patterns (Make of that what you will!) and there is the three-parter which is spread across the release which deals with serial killing and rapists; “Mother Of Morality”, “This Dark Rage” and “Repent Rewind Reset”, all of which is supposedly based on true events.It is this duality – heavy subjects and heavy music, which makes “Echoes Of Existence” a massive album. If you immerse yourself in it, you can find yourself lost in the 10 tracks, caught up in the massive musical sounds, close cutting subjects and vast sonic landscapes. The heavy technological influences may deter some, as might the djent-like moments, but on the whole, this is a solid album which manages to blend several styles and have a working end result.

(8/10 Fraggle)