Ascending in Triumph

rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Ascending In Triumph
02. The Loss And Endeavour Of Divinity
03. The Shadowless Plains
04. Mother Aletheia - Chapter II
05. The Delight Of Autumn Passion
06. My Voyage Through Galactic Aeons
07. To The Grave I Belong
08. Emendare

I hope you've no desire to experience anything related to adrenaline rushes or fits of OCD-driven housecleaning rage because "Ascending in Triumph" will offer you no help whatsoever in that regard. Sixty-three minutes of generally slow — though not funereally plodding — doom majesty is what NOX AUREA offer with their sophomore full-length and first release for Napalm Records after releasing "Via Gnosis" on Solitude Productions in 2009. But if you're expecting anything of the sort, then doom clearly isn't your bag, even with another fine example in Napalm Records' impressive tradition of finding bands that that still manage to create something beautiful out of something so crushingly bleak.

Darkened, doomed, or devastated; call it what you must, but "Ascending in Triumph" won't turn frowns upside down .You damn well better wear a parka too, as the temperature of this baby is arctic cold. All metaphors and the painting of frozen mental landscapes aside, "Ascending in Triumph" is that "something more" of a doom album that many Napalm acts tend to offer in though tunes that carefully constructed to twist and turn in ways just shy of convention-bucking, yet created to reveal nuances during later spins that may have been lost initially in the overwhelming gloom of it all. The utilization of four vocalists, including lead man Patrick Kullberg and angelic crooner Alice Persell, and symphonic/choral effects written to expand and sometimes center a composition, rather than merely accenting it, is not exactly inventive, but is very well done in this case. Interestingly enough, no less than three of the players — guitarist Peter Laustsen (RIMFROST, URGINNTHUL),guitarist/vocalist Grim Vindkall (DOMGARD, URGINNTHUL),and bassist/vocalist Robert Persson — are credited as keyboardists, seeming to indicate that the instrument is either taken damn seriously by the band or a turf war ensued resulting in a stalemate over who should relinquish control in the name of band unity. Well, maybe not the latter.

Beyond the presence of the lush and sparkling is a keen command of vocal variation, even when only considering the smart patterning involved with the Paul Kuhr-ish (NOVEMBERS DOOM) low- and mid-range growls. It is Persell's sweetening of the mix that will get the most attention and, for the most part, it is well deserved, as her performance on the 10-minute "Mother Aletheia Chapter II" is a melodic climax. It is only when taken in the overall context of the album and in consideration of the Gnostic themes that her role is best appreciated since the striking nature of the contrast can sometimes distract more than enchant.

As always, it is the heaviness and placement of the riffs that will make or break an album of this sort and in that regard "Ascending in Triumph", pretty much um, triumphs. As for epic composition, the mood set usually convinces, even if the skill mastery never reaches that heard from, say, label maters AHAB. In the mood or not, "Ascending in Triumph" is a deeply emotional and cripplingly dark work of doom metal.

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