For Fans Of
The trend of post-hardcore musicians abandoning their plugs and doing acoustic albums presents itself as a challenge – after all, there’s an irony to the desire to tone it down in a genre largely centered on volume. For A Skylit Drive, the acoustic album has been pulled off – but only by a whisker.
Rise: Ascension is split into moments in which the choice of utilising acoustic instrumentals is proven to be both apt and unwise. Broken hearted songs like ‘Unbreakable’ showcase how piano notes and strumming are melded together to make the acoustic instrumentals work and indeed, create a mid-2000’s emo sound that boasts melancholy (see also ‘Save Me Tragedy’). ‘Pendulum’ achieves similar success by using natural instruments to create dynamic layers.
Strings soar through these tracks victoriously, particularly on ‘Said and Done’. Despite being more aggressive, it’s proof that not all ‘acoustic’ songs have to follow the instruction of a single guitar. These songs are rebuilt, but are by no means stripped back.
‘Crash Down’ and ‘Wide Awake’ are additionally textured by well-placed strings which exhibit a high degree of musicianship. That skill is furthered on ‘Shadows’, which blends light vocals and foreboding images intriguingly, and compensates for the somewhat mediocre lyrics that are an unfortunate component of the album.
From empowering tracks like ‘Rise’ and ‘I, Enemy’ to mellow numbers like ‘Just Stay’, there is a repetitious lack of innovation in the lyrical department. Unfortunately, making the album real and organic with its instruments fails to neutralise the fact that, at times, its lyrics become so expected and unoriginal they lack resonance.
Another flaw is that while romantic ballads beg for an acoustic do-over, the more aggressive tracks on this record scream (pardon the pun) for the unclean vocals that the original Rise album possessed. ‘Crazy’ is aggressive and disarming, but there are moments when you wish that A Skylit Drive would just be the post-hardcore band that they are and do what they do best. ‘Dreaming In Blue’ uses acoustic instrumentals in a way that makes the word ‘acoustic’ practically redundant. Frankly, at times, the record’s production detracts from its organic atmosphere, and at others the point of ‘acoustic’ is entirely missed.
The desire to experiment is admirable, but Rise: Ascension doesn’t complement the original Rise as much as it could have.
All in all, this experimental record isn’t ground breaking, because it lacks the ability to elevate itself above the album that it was born out of. However, it does provide a solid range of songs to lie awake and stare at your ceiling to. As well as that, it makes an intelligent choice in showcasing the band’s skilful musicianship and Michael Jagmin’s outstanding vocal range. For that, at the very least, it should be commended.
1. Save Me Tragedy
3. Crash Down
6. Said & Done
7. Just Stay
9. I, Enemy
10. Wide Awake
12. Dreaming In Blue