Ascending King – Funeral of a Species
Release Date: 22nd September 2017
Ascending King is actually one guy, Aaron Kirby or Ruah as he also goes by. He is based in Midlothian Texas and is signed to the label Nosral who specialise in Christian influenced metal. Funeral of a Species is a 5 track release that keeps thing dark and doom laden with the moody and apocalyptic air that you might expect from an artist billed as ‘Spirit Filled Doomed Black Metal’.
Stench of Man begins with 30 seconds of slightly skewed and creepy organ before a heavily distorted drone like guitar riff drops in over a very slow beat. The introduction of the vocals is jarring and their screechy delivery with an echoic finish makes them near incomprehensible. Around halfway through there is a sampled voice talking about corpses left to rot and the song has a brief fast paced flurry of drums and shouts before returning to a more lumbering pace. This track is fairly representative of the following ones, the use of droney muddy sounding riffs and abrasive vocals may not be to everyone’s taste but it feels appropriately funereal given the EP’s title.
The second Genesis of Desolation amps things up a bit at the start before moving into a very long section. The mood that is depicted has the feeling of the heavy tramping of deathly troops en route to war. This is accompanied by a noise that sounds like the dial up tone of an old modem. Which for those who remember their ‘speed’ in getting connected seems apt in a song focusing on desolation. Then at 3:50 things liven up, the double kick pedal gets going and the song gathers pace before ending in the buzz of feedback.
Next up is Rupture of the Northern Sky which begins with a single drum beat before leading into guitars and a relentless drumbeat. There is more urgency to this track’s instrumentation, which musically if not vocally recalls aspects of The Melvins build up of feedback heavy riffs over heavy percussion.
The intro to fourth song Moon of the Dead has the sound of Industrial goth with the guitars building up a haunting sound over cymbal driven drumming. The song has an accompanying lyric video which is suitably dark, full of memento mori and traditional morbid iconography. Once again the focus is largely bleak, although there is a glimmer of positivity as the song builds up into a proclamation that ‘when the dust settles perhaps you will be spared’
The EP finishes with The Eternal Extinction of Apollyon which largely ploughs the same furrow as the preceding tracks. The vocals are initially slightly less distorted than elsewhere. The guitar riffs are a little clearer later on and even syncopate with the vocals at one point. This track marks a fittingly black conclusion to an EP that explores the potential of annihilation and the destructive nature of humanity.
Overall this is a highly atmospheric release that really amps up the sense of foreboding, generating a downbeat and gloomy aesthetic. At times the songs become a little too entrenched in long breakdowns or repetitive motifs that don’t feel like they are going anywhere. However this does contribute to the overall sense of impending dread that permeates the record and it is impressive that the whole article is the work of one man.
Recommended Track: Rupture of the Northern Sky