Ascending King formed in 2015 by Ruah (Aaron Kirby) and within one year had joined Sky Burns Black Records and released the single “Genesis of Desolation” but left before the recording of the debut ep was complete, signing with the new label Nosral Recordings in 2017, which was started by Michael John Larson (Frost Like Ashes). In keeping with the black metal theme, Ruah joined Elgibbor on stage at the 2017 Audiofeed festival playing bass alongside notables Fire (guitars), Azahel (vocals), Sebat (guitars) and Taberah (drums). Funeral of a Species is the first release for Nosral Recordings and is a concept album about man’s last days on Earth.
Fittingly, the ep opens up with some eerie organ music and then abruptly switches to some heavily distorted bass guitar and plodding drum track. Near shrieking black metal vocals start with the guitars and while the double bass drum line kicks in, the song maintains a plodding, doom-like rhythm for a while until the drums really take off and bring the bass and guitars with. The production is higher quality than a lot of black metal releases, especially solo project ones and that really adds to the impact and power of the songs. That being said, there still is that rawness one would expect in a black metal release (and yes, I use “black metal” to describe the music, not belief system of the artist or lyrical content).
“Genesis of Desolation” continues with the doom influences and my ear can’t help but hear some epic guitar riffs that are very Sabbath-esque in nature. In this song, there is more of a pronounced echo to the vocals, like they were recorded in a metal room or something, but in the context of the song it works well. “Rupture in the Northern Sky” is the first of the songs that has that more typical fast, drilling-like guitar riff so often a part of black metal songs. The rhythm section keeps up with guitar and in general, this song feels more like black metal and less like doom, although blast beats are not a main feature.
“Moon of the Dead” is the band’s first lyrical video and if nothing else, should be the song everyone checks out as it does encompass the elements of Ascending King’s doomy version of black metal and gives a chance to see what the lyrics are all about. The song itself starts out slow and like others on the album manages to accelerate to a pretty fast speed before taking a break and coming back even faster in full black metal mode. Given the album is about the end of man on Earth and is a concept album, it makes sense the last song, “Eternal Extinction of Appollyon” would be the darkest and most frenetic. As the album progressed, the vocals seem to become more strained and conveying an increasing sense of urgency that peaks in this song as they turn to deep growls.
For me, this is an interesting effort and impressive for a debut release. Given that I normally despise doom in most forms, I count it quite impressive that the album kept my interest. The mix of elements, good but not too good production, and strong performances make this an album to check out.
Written by John Jackson
1. The Stench of Man
2. Genesis of Desolation
3. Rupture in the Northern Sky
4. Moon of the Dead
5. Eternal Extinction of Appollyon
Ruah – all instruments, vocals
Record Label: Nosral Recordings, Sept. 2017
Lyric video for ‘Moon of the Dead’