Album Review: Thulcandra – “Ascension Lost”

Ascension Lost
(Napalm Records)

Germany’s Thulcandra are widely known for carrying on the legacy of Swedish melodic death/black metallers Dissection and by all means Ascension Lost proves that. Pound for pound, we’re hearing the familiar style explored on such classics as Storm Of The Light’s Bane and The Somberlain, with all Reinkaos influences nowhere to be found. Though the German quartet are utilizing a few semblances of acoustic melodies here and there as well as some rather rocking solos, this record feels every bit like the legacy of the band and the continuation of that legacy that came before it. As far as the album’s concept is concerned, it’s about the fall of the dark lord himself and is decorated in just the same manner of music that one would think he’d appreciate. The only real problem with the album is that it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere at all and seems awfully safe otherwise. I didn’t expect it to build too much on the legacy of Dissection, but it doesn’t really separate itself from anything else that the band has written and appears to be another drop in the bucket. While “The First Rebellion” opens the album on a rather strong note, there doesn’t really seem to be anything all that brilliant afterwards and the disc just seems to stay within the same safe zones, minus the use of acoustic passages. For fans of the style this will be heavily appreciated (unless you just don’t like acoustics in metal music for a given reason) but if you’re looking for something that feels like a real successor to the brilliant Under A Frozen Sun and Fallen Angel’s Dominion albums, then you’re going to be feeling a bit underwhelmed. Yet when I think about it and wonder as to what exactly a band like Thulcandra can do with this style, I find myself at a standstill. Has the well gone dry? Perhaps that’s why Jon Nodtveidt felt it was necessary to write Reinkaos in the first place, because the band was clearly not going to go anywhere with the style already having been perfected on Storm Of The Light’s Bane. I almost want to say that they’re phoning it in at this point, but due to a few slight enhancements and tinkerings, the record actually sounds much better than it could have and I suppose we can be thankful for that. I don’t feel that Ascension Lost is a major let down, and it’s definitely not a candidate for the worst album of the year by any means. It just seems like a stagnant box with enough holes poked into it to avoid mildewing. There are truly some powerful moments to be found here, but at the end of the day I feel that the listener will be looking for something else to get their fix with shortly afterwards. If you’re a major fan of early Dissection and have been enjoying the work that Thulcandra have done prior to this release, then I highly recommend you pick it up as you’ll enjoy adding it to your collection. But for the rest of us, I think there will be better collaborations of black and melodic death metal done this year. In the end, I think Ascension Lost describes my thoughts on the album perfectly. It was a good enough effort, but it sadly missed the mark. (Eric May)

Purchase Ascension Lost here.

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