Outside the Box – A Skylit Drive: Rise: Ascension

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Outside the Box – A Skylit Drive: Rise: Ascension
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A Skylit Drive: Rise: Ascension
Emo, Pop Punk
Tragic Hero Records
January 6th, 2015
Release length: 42:48
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“Why don’t you check out A Skylit Drive?” they said. “It’s Post-Hardcore goodness you’re gonna love!” they proclaimed. Well, “they”, the theoretical hordes of rabid site fans that don’t really exist but, rather, are one or two old friends who for some reason thought I’d enjoy this group, have won. This is a band name that has graced my presence a couple times over the past few years, so, naturally, curiosity was already peaked. The band formed back in 2005, and has issued four full-length album, a number of singles, as well as an EP. For 2015, however, this group returned to their 2013 effort, Rise, to issue an acoustic version earlier in 2015, aptly called Rise: Ascension. It may not be the best entry into the fray for someone who has never heard their material before, but, Acoustic Post-Hardcore according to the press release/summary? I was definitely up for the experience. Unfortunately, that’s not what was presented…

Well, upon realizing Rise: Ascension was an acoustic rendition of their previous original full-length, I decided to hold off on ay praise or negativity until I checked out some of Rise through the wonders of Youtube. Of course, most of what I heard was pretty good as far as the music was concerned, though the vocals were a little too whiny for my liking. Of course, it doesn’t help that this group winds up being categorized as Post-Hardcore and Screamo, the latter of which seems far more reasonable a summary of their sound. Still, the addition of growls from time to time, like with the title track “Rise”, were a welcomed addition, as were the solid guitar solos. However, this is not what the new version sounds like at all.

Instead of bringing the mild complexities to life through the acoustic guitars, or even presenting a far more mellow experience, Rise: Ascension is essentially a dulled down version of Rise that throws anything of interest out the window to create a simpler, Emo/Pop Punk radio-friendly offering that basically mocks what potential it’s based of had. “Unspeakable” has a little technicality at times with a nice deeper tone in the background, but the layered clean singing doesn’t quite match that environment other than a late Summer’s night for a bunch of high school kids enjoying the time before school starts back up. The song is commendable for that Hollywood Undead youthful touch, but having a lower tone at times would really work to the track’s benefit instead of the additional female vocals toward the end, or softer leads that sounds like a woman has joined in (honestly, I can’t tell which it is).

“Crash Down” is another fun loving track, but much of the atmosphere is revoked, and everything else that made the previous track sound childish reach obnoxious levels, even with the high pitched muffled scream in the background. There’s also “Pendulum”, the most irritating of all, which tries desperately to be more like a Rock Ballad. It misses wildly, instead winding up the whiniest performance of all thanks to it. The simpler music does manage to create a decent atmosphere, but it all sounds incredibly petulant the way it’s handled. Again, some deeper vocals would work wonders in making it a far more effective track instead of one that sounds geared towards hitting that early teen demographic that just got dumped by their first boyfriend or girlfriend. Even holding off with the louder enthusiasm that can honestly hurt your ears if sensitive enough would have been acceptable.

Admittedly, this approach works on occasion, but even that can be an overstatement. “Save Me Tragedy” is pretty catchy as more of a laid back experience with the nasal vocal approach. The deeper chords at the end were a nice touch to compliment the already moody performance, and the restricted drum presence added a little extra bite overall despite having some notable washout. “Said & Done” actually has a little more emotion to it, and not entirely in an Emo way. The additional violin that appears from time to time sounds beautiful, playing up the mood woven by the softer hooks in the chorus. The main verses could be a little more powerful, but including some extra technicality through high chords does the job well enough, as does limiting the amount of layered vocals.

Rise: Ascension is a good idea as a whole, but one that just isn’t executed well at all. For the most part, the music is hit or miss. The group jumps between various standard Pop-Punk and Emo concepts that eliminate anything that makes A Skylit Drive stand out amongst the My Chemical Romances and Fall Out Boys of the world. If they had shown a little restraint in the vocals, or even taken further advantage of the acoustic approach by either eliminating all other instruments but the guitar, or amplifying them with additional orchestral arrangements, this could have been something more than just one whiny song after another with a handful of moderately technical chords here and there. Even if you enjoyed Rise in the slightest, if you can’t stand what equates to a high school girl’s dramatic “my life is over” cries for attention, you will find Rise: Ascenion holds very little of interest.


01. Save Me Tragedy – 3:24
02. Unbreakable – 3:35
03. Crash Down – 3:23
04. Rise – 3:19
05. Crazy – 3:02
06. Said & Done – 3:43
07. Just Stay – 4:41
08. Pendulum – 3:24
09. Wide Awake – 3:26
10. I, Enemy – 3:03
11. Shadows – 3:48
12. Dreaming in Blue – 3:02
Score: 4/10

Straightline

Digital review copy of this release provided by Stereokiller.com.