Oh baby, I like it raw. - Ol' Dirty Bastard
Death metal and rap music - I've loved them both for most of my life. I have to wonder if the rippers in Ascended Dead feel the same way after listening to Abhorrent Manifestation almost daily for the past month or so.
It's not because they use 808 drops, wear Pelle Pelle, or rave in their lyrics about DJ Paul's BBQ Sauce. No, I said all that to set up this - Ascended Dead likes it raw.
This group of San Diego thrashers put together one of the most raw, in your face albums of the entire year. 10 tracks that clock in at just under 37 minutes, all played with a rip-your-face-off speed and ferocity unlike anything else I've heard this year.
They give a short warning to open the album, about 45 seconds of build up noise, and then it's go time.
The band sticks with me because they're raw, heavy, and very good. But also because they blend sounds that I've heard other places, from other bands. And not just domestic products or underground basement groups that only release demo tapes. The solos played on this record capture a tone and viciousness that makes me think of Slayer. The production, unrelenting heaviness, and speed of Dead Congregation, the nastiest band from Greece that I'll listen to. Obviously, a comparison to a band like Slayer is way over the top if I were to say that the two bands share the same space in the furthest reaches of extreme metal. What really makes me think of that band is the way Ascended Dead nails their solos.
The comparison to Dead Congregation wasn't something I thought too much about until I went back and listened to their full-length, Promulgation of the Fall. The bands aren't a carbon copy, each being unique enough in their song structure, but the similarities are uncanny to my ears. I might be alone on that, but I consider it a good thing.
Ascended Dead also does things with a certain amount of underground staple that you rarely see in bands that are so good. If you visit their website, it looks like a step back in time. They don't have a webstore - I ordered their lone t-shirt design directly from the band via email. They're playing the Dark Descent Records showcase in Denver not too long from now, and then they'll be playing four shows on the West Coast. That's the end of 2017 for them. Few appearances, an old school approach to their web and commercial presence. The album, which is fantastic, is still available on the more rare of their vinyl options (Grey) via Dark Descent Records webstore - approximately six months after it was released. The band is truly flying under the radar.
While this might be one of the bands I consider slept on, you won't be able to sleep while listening to their album. Even if their acoustic instrumental midway through the album feels like a soothing salve to cover the same flesh they were moments earlier peeling, they go right back into the assault.
Probably my favorite example of just how heavy this album is can be found on the track "Last Ritual," which is right near the end of the album. It's a cover of the great Possessed, and it's much better than the original, but don't tell anyone I said that.
I'm sure that I'll find a lot of other music I love this year, but nothing is going to hit me the way this album does. Ascended Dead came through as a huge surprise in 2017 and I'm glad I didn't miss out. This one rips, turn it up.
by Daniel Coughlin