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Ascension of the Watchers

Apocrypha / Translations

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual set. While the band's website shows this with the titles reversed and the content on the first disc as the second and vice versa, I am going with it the way it's presented here. Interestingly enough, their photo of the inside of the set is the same. I know that Apocrypha is labeled as the first disc here, so that's the way I'm doing it.

While I'm sure these guys wouldn't consider themselves a progressive rock band, I have to land this under that heading. I mean, it's got plenty of music that calls to mind modern prog acts like Porcupine Tree for me. There are even things that feel like Dream Theater. Yes, there is a lot of electronic music here along with plenty of techno and Goth sound. It's an intriguing mix of sounds, really. It's hard to categorize and quite effective.

The second disc is an album of remixes of the songs included on the main album. I'd say that disc is entertaining, but definitely not as effective as the album proper. It's also a lot less proggy. I'd look at that one as the bonus disc, though, and as such it works well.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Disc One: Apocrypha
                          
Ghost Heart

Keyboard sounds bring this into being. The cut fires out to a rather metallic hard rocking jam from there. There is a drop back to more stripped back electronic textures for the first vocals. This gets into more fierce rocking zones from there. This has elements of metal, new wave and Goth rock. Overall, though, this isn't far removed from what you might get if you merged the kind of stuff bands like modern Marillion and Porcupine Tree do with the heaviness of Dream Theater.

The End Is Always Beginning
This has a decidedly metallic sound. Yet there are proggy things here, too. There is a dark, goth angle at play for sure. The overlayers and more subtle undertones on this really deliver a lot of magic. it's a lush and richly arranged piece. Yet none of that gets in the way of the rocking angle. The choral leaning keyboard based mellower movement at the end is all class.
Apocrypha
Dark gothic textures, electronics and hard rocking sounds all merge to create something that is definitely proggy.
A Wolf Interlude
A slow moving piece, this is dramatic and powerful. It's also proggy, even though also dark. I dig the vocal hooks on this song. This gets really involved and dramatic as it explores its musical themes.
Honoree
Electronic, dark and dramatic, the vocals here are processed in an artsy way. This has a prominent percussive element.
Stormcrow
This is decidedly metallic, really rocking out like crazy. This gets into some pretty crazed electronic prog zones further down the road, too.
Cygnus Aeon
There is a spoken sound-bite that starts this. Keyboard textures rise up from there before a hard rocking concept emerges to drive it forward. This has some killer hooks, and the sound-bite, seemingly based around hypnosis, returns later. The song is quite gothic in nature.
Key to the Cosmos
The opening sound-bite from this one, I believe, is from "Iron Man 2." After that bit keyboards bring the track musically into being. It works outward from there gradually. There are some really trippy electronic textures to this number. The vocals bring more of an almost dreamy vibe to it. This is decidedly proggy.
Bells of Perdition
Dramatic, mellower electronic textures bring this into being. It works out from there in a slow moving arrangement. This has plenty of Gothic rock in the mix, but also some prog tendencies.
Wanderers
Dark, Gothic, and yet not that far removed from a lot of modern prog, this is classy stuff. It has some strong hooks and really works well. There is an acapella bit at the end.
Bonus Tracks:
                     
Sign Your Name

Acoustic guitar brings this into being. The track has a moody arrangement and works really well. While this isn't as proggy as some of the others, there are proggy elements here.

Wanderers (John Bechdel Remix)
I dig this remix a lot. If anything it comes across much proggier. There are some real space rock elements built into this, too.
Disc Two: Translations
                      
My Only Son - A Wolf Interlude - Converted by Jayce Lewis

There is a real electronic music energy and groove to this thing. It's a powerhouse EDM inspired remix. I dig when it drops to mellower stuff mid-track.  While it works back out to more pure dance music further down the road, there is an almost symphonic vibe to a mellower movement later.

Exposed to the Light - Cygnus Aeon– Illuminated by Hiro Peace
The sound-bite at the start is here, too. This cut works outward from there with killer electronic textures. I really like how it's transformed here. Sure, there is an EDM angle, but in some ways the proggy concept is actually magnified on this re-imagining. I dig the piano part at the end of this a lot.
Become a Warrior - Stormcrow – Transformed by Jayce Lewis
Percussive electronic concepts are on the menu at the start here. The number works into a killer dance groove from there.
Alien Communication - Apocrypha – Transmitted by Burtonomous
The groove on this is so classy. It's very much EDM, but informed by both Goth and prog concepts.
Left Hand Path - Bells of Perdition – Evoked by Wiselabs
Driving electronics bring a lot of style and drama to this piece.
Prowse - Honoree – Elucidated by Abraham Fihema
This rendition feels dramatic, electronic and so powerful. It is definitely proggy.
Electroconductor - Keys to the Cosmos – Unlocked by Nucleon
Starting with the same sound-bite as the other version, this is a dramatic electronic number. This is very much a dance-styled piece.
Paradise Found - The End is Always the Beginning– Realized by A.I. Zero
This slow moving number is on the mellower side earlier. Later it powers into something that reminds me of Nine Inch Nails.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Wanderers – Summoned by Burtonomous
The electronic textures here work well. The cut is Gothic and dramatic and yet has some definite nods toward EDM. As it works to more rocking zones later it really becomes so powerful.
So Luminous - Ghost Heart – Revealed by Jayce Lewis
I dig the lush and dense electronic soundscape that makes this track up. It drives into more techno sounding stuff as it continues forward.

 

 

 
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