Album Review

The Higher Key

The Higher Key

by Arc Of Ascent


8.5 / 10
9th May 2012

Reviewed by Ricardo Kerr


Arc Of Ascent are a ridiculously hard-rocking trio from Hamilton, consisting of vocalist/bassist Craig Williamson, guitarist Sandy Schaare, and drummer John Strange. If their name sounds familiar it is possible that you have seen them as an opening act for one of any number of visiting metal acts or local sideshows, or you might remember the outpouring of critical acclaim that their debut album, Circle Of The Sun, received in 2010. Such a wealth of expectation must have made the follow-up record difficult to conceive and execute. But two years later that is exactly what they have done. It is called The Higher Key and it fulfills every promise of the first album as well as blowing expectations out of the water.

The first thing that strikes you as opening track 'Celestial Altar' starts up is how good the album sounds sonically. It is clear that much of the past two years has been spent refining their sound and getting every single tone on the record pitch perfect. As such the highs soar higher and the lows cut deeper than ever before. There is a magic in all of this that is hard to put your finger on. Perhaps it is in the wordless chanted chorus of 'Elemental Kingdom' that bleeds into Schaare's blazing guitar solos. Or maybe its in the ominous vocal harmonies of 'Land Of Tides'. More likely though it is the rock-solid groove that the band establishes on the first song and holds onto until the very last note has faded from your speakers. This unity of purpose culminates on the gob-smacking closer 'Through The Rays Of Infinity' that lives up to its name and much more. The Higher Key maintains a deft balancing act between mountains of sludgy guitar squall and deliberate rhythms throughout, garnering the odd comparison with Tool or Black Sabbath along the way.

What you have in The Higher Key is a more focused collection of songs than Circle Of The Sun, a lot of which owes to the fact that album was written, recorded, and produced within a much shorter period of time than their debut was. This more deliberate approach might not make for any obvious singles (Circle Of The Sun's'Godhead' was destined to be such) but it makes for an engaging listening experience which will be hard to top this year. The key to their success is that these three gentlemen work seamlessly together like a single three-headed, twelve-limbed rock monster. Basslines and guitar riffs share the spotlight, each knowing when to wax, when to wane, and when to freak out with reckless abandon. Drummer John Strange is again a workhorse on the kit, pounding away as if his very life depended upon it. The Higher Key is a wonderfully crafted and heartfelt record that gracefully sidesteps the dreaded sophomore album slump and is bound to put the band back on the map.


Celestial Altar
Celestial Altar, by Arc Of Ascent
From: Arc of Ascent, (2012)
http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/utr/review/CID/680/N/The-Higher-Key.utr



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it fuckin rips
Posted by B - anonymous 4 years ago



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