A Skylit Drive, ‘Rise: Ascension’ – Album Review
Celebrating the release of their latest effort, 'Rise: Ascension' -- an acoustic retelling of their fourth studio album -- things were anything but business as usual for A Skylit Drive. Between their press days and interviews leading up to the new disc, the band’s schedule yielded a rather untraditional task: open auditions. Just weeks before their release date, the band took to the internet in search of replacements for bassist Brian White and drummer Corey La Quay.
Generally speaking, where there is smoke, there is fire. One would expect a record scheduled so closely to a separation might show signs of weakness and distraction. However, 'Rise: Ascension' is as straightforward and collected as possible. A Skylit Drive have done a flawless job of reworking the once typical, post-hardcore release, 'Rise,' into a less abrasive and rather beautiful spotlight of raw and emotional talent.
'Ascension' reveals a grown-up side to A Skylit Drive. Temporarily trading their industrialized anger for a softer and more vulnerable acoustic approach, the band reveals a side of themselves previously unimaginable. They present their fans and critics alike with a well-orchestrated album of songs that are allowed to breathe and swell for the first time, rather than be suffocated under the oppression of potential cookie-cutter scene angst. A mellow chill has replaced the normal, jaded vibe of the record.
'Ascension' is dialed back of yelling, so the album opening scream has been replaced by a whisper. Nothing sums up the differences in the albums better.
However, the most notable change on the record is how the guitars have taken on the duties of the band’s signature synths. Strings swell in the background of 'Save Me Tragedy,' as acoustic picking replaces a haunting drum machine and synth combo. With the core of noise commonly found on a hardcore album not there, Michael Jagmin’s vocals are allowed to shine in a way like never before. Previously buried, his signature falsettos reach listeners in a brand new way. Tracks like 'Save Me Tragedy' and 'Rise' highlight Jagmin’s rage and raw talent as a singer. While it would be easy enough to write A Skylit Drive off as another cliche from an overstocked music scene, the newly reinvigorated versions of 'Ascension' disprove this theory flawlessly.
While fans should already be aware of the unmistakable musicianship of A Skylit Drive, 'Ascension' will kick open the door for casual listeners to grasp the infectious hooks and clever structures that separate this band from the rest. Their adaptability and imaginative direction throughout the album is not only a quality talking point, but a beautiful addition to their catalog.