Release Title: Ascent of Kings
Label: Hessian Firm
Release Date: 3 March 2023
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Length: 68min 45s
Straight out of the harsh, arctic tundras of Toronto, we have an epic new album from Cromlech named Ascent of Kings. Founded in 2011, Cromlech sees themselves as being on a mission to deliver music that truly feels epic and, as they describe, thunderous. They want an innovative, big sound with intricate instrumentals that stands out as something different from the usual releases of today. With Ascent of Kings, that’s exactly what you’ll get from the first track, so be prepared.
Cromlech decided that there is no better way to kick off their mission to deliver an audio epic than to simply start the album with an epic. That’s right; Cimmeria, the first track, is an epic that clocks in at 14min 59s. Music aside for a second, that’s a bold choice. Epic tracks can be confronting for many listeners, so if you’re going to make that the first thing people hear, you need it to be one of your top tier tracks. They’ve certainly done that – it’s my favourite track on Ascent of Kings, and it’s a hell of a listen.
Across the breadth of Cimmeria, we embark on a journey that starts off with a chorus of almost mournful sounding a capella vocals that feel like an appropriate sendoff as we begin the Ascent of Kings. Vocals give way to violins and drums that build us up, reflecting our energy at the beginning of this journey, transitioning into some lovely, wailing electric guitarwork. You’ll hear wild shredding, traditional sounding heavy metal with contemporary technique, powerful soloing, and more.
While Cimmeria does have moments reminiscent of oldschool heavy metal, this certainly isn’t a band that can be neatly fit into that box. There’s so many different musical elements and layers of sound that really does make this an innovative contemporary release, aware of those bands and musical movements that have been an influence on them, but never a prisoner of those eras and styles. The fourth track on the album, Born with Sword in Hand (Doomed to Martyrdom), is a great example of that diversity.
It opens with some fast-paced riffs and bass, before giving way to a classic Guns n’ Roses, Axl-Rose style building wail. There’s an aggressiveness to the guitarwork in this track, but some of the best work here is in the bass that I can’t get enough of, always there and layered in a way where it shines, not just thrust into the background like many releases do in the mix. As I’m told, the band tried to create a blended, layered sound with a variety of elements, and so we’re able to listen in on particular parts we like, and that makes it all the more enjoyable.
There’s just such a combination of elements here that I think many Cave Dweller readers will enjoy this one. Whether you’re into fast-paced riffage or you prefer folk elements in your metal, Cromlech are here for you. They’ll deliver exciting, technical guitarwork coupled with rousing vocals and dramatic, folksy strings, from cellos to violins. You’ll hear modern levels of innovation, but you’ll also hear elements of eras past. When you hear about Ascent of Kings you’re going to hear a lot about how Cromlech have brought together an array of different elements and expertly layered them together to create a cohesive whole that’s both innovative and epic. That’s simply the truth, and this is a must listen.
I hope you enjoy Ascent of Kings.