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This Ascension | Light and Shade | review | goth | ethereal | Lollipop

This Ascension

Light and Shade (Projekt)
by DJ Arcanus

With the collapse of Tess Records, artists formerly on that label have scrambled to get resigned. Projekt Records has acquired This Ascension and, as is common, is re-releasing the band's previous material. How do labels get consumers to buy re-issues? Simple, with bonus material. I really hate it when this happens, because I like to have complete collections and I end up wondering if those extra goodies are worth spending the money on. In the end, I suppose it all boils down to how big a fan you are.

The reissue of Tears in Rain - This Ascension's debut from 1989 - breaks the pattern as it contains no new art or bonus tracks, so if you already own the album from Tess there's no point in buying the Projekt re-issue. This album was ahead of its time when it came out, and it still holds its own. With better distribution on a more widely-known label, this classic album can now be enjoyed by a new generation of listeners.

Tears in Rain starts with an old school instrumental a la Mephisto Waltz or early Christian Death and progresses into an album that falls somewhere between Gothic rock and swirlie-girlie ethereal. As usual, This Ascension combines rich layers of guitar sounds with strong female vocals, and Dru's clear voice is refreshing over the woefully aggressive melodies and rhythms.

This album was recommended to me when I first got into Strange Boutique, Monica Richard's band before Faith & the Muse. They share a quality that was lacking in this genre a decade ago: Truly inspirational female vocals. With the explosion of Gothic bands since that time, many women have stood in the frontline; yet after more than ten years, few Gothic rock albums come close to the power, complexity, and beauty found on Tears in Rain.

This Ascension's follow-up, Light and Shade, is probably their best-selling album. The bonus material on Light and Shade comes in the form of two songs: "August Rain" and "Ashes Don't Burn." "August Rain" is a very slow, melancholy song that makes me want to lay in a crypt and lament. "Ashes Don't Burn" is its polar opposite - upbeat and almost cheerful. Light and Shade is an exploration of how a Gothic album can be gloomy and beautiful all at once. I'd encourage everyone to go buy it after reading this review if it included the surreal video for "Ill Met by Moonlight"... but alas, there is no video. If you already have the Tess release, the two songs probably aren't worth spending money on (though if you're a diehard fan, you're probably going to buy it anyway). If you don't have this gem and you like pretty female vocals and Gothic music, do yourself a favor and make it a priority.

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