Sound: Out of the ashes of The7Method rises The Ascendicate, one of the newest members of the Solid State family. On February 10, 2009, The Ascendicate released their debute album, To Die As Kings.
The album kicks off with the heaviest song on the album, Scottish. Immediately after that track, I thought that I would be listening to a moderately heavy metalcore album. To my disappointment, I was wrong. As the album progressed, the typical formula of screamed verses coupled with sung choruses was replaced with nearly complete singing. Not that that's a bad thing; I was just hoping the other tracks would be somewhat similar to Scottish. The initial deception aside, To Die As Kings is a pleasantly catchy album. I enjoyed each and every song.
The musicianship is fairly good; Ryan Helm and Dustin Bryant aren't amazing guitarists, but they're still pretty good. Chris Wheat is a fantastic drummer who isn't afraid of blasting out some double-bass every once in a while. We don't hear much of David Dudley's bass work on the album, save for the bass intro to You and Me. Most of the time the bass sound gets lost in sound of the rhythm guitar. Not that this doesn't happen on most hard rock and metal albums, though. I wasn't really surprised.
While To Die As Kings should please most listeners, some will be turned off by the mediocre songwriting. The album isn't very innovative at all and most of the songs sound pretty much the same. The only time we really hear the band change things up are in the first few tracks of the album. Burden features some lines from the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Fire That Kid features an impressive acoustic guitar solo. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrical value of the album is probably where it is most lacking. The lyrics are fairly bland and overly simple, consisting of predictable rhymes and numerous cliches.
However crappy the lyrics may be, the vocals mostly make up for it. Eric Marlowe has a fantastic voice that isn't low but isn't whiny sounding. It's just perfect. Ryan Helm provides some cool sounding screams. They don't vary much in pitch, but they get the job done. Even when a song is mostly clean, the backing screams often make it five times better. // 7
Overall Impression: Despite its weak points, I enjoyed this album a lot. Each of the songs are great. The album never gets bogged down by a bad track or two. One thing I would complain about regarding the songs, though, is the overall amount on the the album. Ten songs is completely fine, but it would have been nice to see one or two more.
Perhaps the most impressive songs on the album are Scottish (the first track), You and Me, Fire that Kid, and One Day Without You (a perfect final track).
While the album contains a good amount of heaviness that should keep most metal-lovers happy, it also has a softer and more melodic side. Each song is pleasantly catchy; To Die As Kings should keep your foot tapping and your head banging. // 9