Artwork by Kristian Wahlin
Thulcandra make no excuses about where their loyalties lie; that is the second wave of melodic Swedish black metal when bands like Dissection, Dawn, Unanimated and Sacramentum ruled with their epic melody lines. Thulcandra’s previous two releases reproduced that era very effectively; so by definition Ascension Lost should just continue with that sound.
First of all, it is very hard to expand what bands did back in the day. It was almost as if they wrote every melody possible within the thick layer of that icy cold atmosphere and by god, it was sorrow and elegance rolled into one. Also, they managed to weave all the parts into one whole which was complete as a song. There were no gaps. I would say that Thulcandra are yet to hit this mark consistently but one area where Thulcandra are really good at is extending those melodies into solos. Ascension Lost continues with the same sound but it appears as if the album lacks that chilly atmosphere and a certain level of innocence, if I may use that word; something which they captured well in their first two albums. Instantly, there is a bit of a stutter as the band just runs through the motions in the first two songs – “First Rebellion of Sin” and “Throne of Will”; and although the band tries to salvage them by using solos and melodies around them, the aggressive parts seem a little forced. Thankfully, the band manages to rescue the album from this position. “Deliverance of Sin and Death” and “Sorrow of the One” for example, manage to capture the melody I was looking for and elongate it to evoke that bit of desperation. “Demigod Omnipresent”, with its acoustic intro which then stretches out into a larger melodic landscape reminds me of that old sound once again. It’s a very safe listen from here on in as the band gets most of the things right – epic melody lines are sustained for a decent amount of time, acoustic interludes fit in pretty well into the scheme of things, with harmonies and solos being spot on. Thulcandra do it best when they imbibe those influential melodic sensibilities into their riffs, rather than create passages which seem disjointed from it. But, by and large they do manage to create another solid album. Agreed that there are gaps but the band has done a decent job. Essential? No, but good? Yes.
As mentioned before, they still haven’t reached the level of perfection of what the older bands did by creating parts which were equally memorable leading to their respective epic highlights/choruses, and how they intertwined with each other; the band again does a good job of reminding us that those melodies are very much relevant even today. The template has been exhausted to the fullest by the forefathers; so it’s always pleasing to hear bands like Thulcandra and Bane carrying the torch in this era.
This scroll contains many points of interest to the initiate, yet not so many as to make it essential