Ascendant is a metal band from Denmark, in 2012 they released their first album “The Alteration”. Last month Ascendant was part of the line-up of Elements Of Rock 2014 in Switzerland (a live video can be seen below). During EOR, they presented their new EP “Serenity”. Below you can read an interview with Josua & the other guys of Ascendant.
TMR: Hey guys this is ‘The Metal Resource’ from Holland, how are things going there in Denmark ?
Pretty great! We are all exited about our new EP release and what the future holds for us. Beside our own band, the Danish Christian metal band are few but all of them have some significant potential! Especially check out Unseen Faith, Captain Roselyn, Magtesløs and Prayers From The Abyss!
TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! [name and instrument]
My name is Josua Poulsen, and I am the leadsinger of Ascendant. I am 22 years old and I am studying Political Science at fourth semester. Beside that I am doing some voluntarily jobs as the head of the economics in some organizations, the one of them is Sanctuary Denmark
Hello! I am Kristoffer and I play the lead guitar. I am 21 years old and I am studying Musicology at second semester.
My name is Levi and i am 22 years old. I study International Communication and Multimedia on 2nd semester. Besides I am co-owner of a Cloud based company that focus on online backup. I’m also active in other bands and Christian metal ministry Sanctuary Denmark
Hi. My name is Jens Grønhøj and I am the bass guitarist and backing vocal. I am 23 years old and I am working as electronic technician apprentice at Bang and Olufsen in Struer.
Ascendant is our playground where we can make the music we love. We like to experiment a lot and push boundaries so we try not to be bounded too much by genre. But we have our feet solid placed in the black and death metal genres though. Ascendant is where we talk freely about what is on our minds which eventually gets to the paper as lyrics.
Ascendant was created eight years ago, by that time it was called Amorém and it consisted Levi, Kristoffer, Josua and Thomas. Then after we finished boarding school and started high school Jens joined on the bass. In 2012 we released our debut album “The Alteration” and at Elements of Rock 2014 we released our EP “Serenity”
TMR: What is your musical background ? [for everyone personal]
Levi: I come from a very musical home where I grew up listening to a lot of different music. I attended piano lessons for 5 years but I would much rather bash the drums to Battery of Metallica and Toxicity by System of a Down. That basically started my ‘metal career’.
Jens: Unlike Levi i gues my home was not as musical as his. My mom used to play guitar and piano when she was young but she still had her old western guitar standing in the living room. When I began showing interest in the guitar my mom taught me the basic chords and after half a year I began taking lessons.
Kristoffer: Coming from a musical home as well, I started attending guitar lessons when I was 10. This eventually evolved into a passion for music. I am currently studying Musicology on Aarhus University.
Josua: My musical background is like non-existent. In my young days I listened to pop and Techno…. Then at the age of 12 I discovered metal music. I started listening especially to zao and demon hunter which was some of the first inspiration I had to start developing my own vocals. Dan from Zao is still one of my biggest inspiration for vocal together with Ilkka from Benea Reach. I am really not that musical, I cant play any instuments.. But I find great joy and energy in doing the growling and screaming and that is my main motivation. Where I lack skills in music theory, the other guys help me.
TMR: Why the name ‘Ascendant’ ? Is there a story behind it ?
Ascendant for us means to look back on our ancestors, especially our ancestors from the old testament. But ascendant is also a synonym for Jesus who Ascended from death.
TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Ascendant’ ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?
Jens: We all take part in the writing of new material wether it is lyrics or music. But the tracks on Serenity was mainly written by Levi and myself.
When I write music it sort of happens by accident. Mostly it begins with jamming on the guitar when I am bored or in between projects. Sometimes half a day can go by with nothing happening and then something just pops up and the song kind of evolves from that first riff. After that I can’t think of nothing else than finishing the song and almost every other project I might have is set on hold.
I guess my lyric writing is a lot like that too. It usually starts when something is troubling my mind or if I have seen or heard something that inspired or shocked me. I walk around and discuss a lot with myself and thinking things over and over again until it begins to come out as lyrics.
TMR: Is ‘Ascendant’ a Christian metalband, or Christians in a metal band ?
The short answer would be christians in a band but, Ascendant consist of five members who all believe in Jesus Christ. We write lyrics about how it is like being a christian and a humanbeing on this earth. The whole christian metalband vs christians in a band is up to the listener to judge.
TMR: As a Christian what is your relationship with God like at this point in your life, and what sort of message would you share with the readers at this time, that would inspire and encourage both believers and non believers to cling onto the things of God. [for everyone personal]
Josua: God is working in mysterious ways, for me you have to be open to what God has to tell you and give you. You have to see the faith in Christ as a liberation and not a limitation. I have had a long period of my life where all was dark and melacholic, but as our debut album is titled “the alteration” happend, and I recently found myself in trusting the lord of him knowing where I have to place my foot. So a lot of my doubt in myself and my future has been taken away.
Levi: Wow, it’s such a huge question :- ) well I feel the same as Josua. It is really the best thing to discover the ultimate freedom and love through the relationship with Christ. It’s not all easy and happy times and the world can make it hard to cling unto His word. But through time and when we grow in faith it becomes a solid foundation. This is sort of also what our new song “the foundation” on Serenity is about.
Kristoffer: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This simple message challenges me every day. I believe all the good I have in me is given to me by God. And even though I am doing a poor job at managing this goodness, I must always try to draw closer to the perfection he has intended for me.
Jens: I will not get to in deep with this question because I have a lot of unsettled thoughts, so what I say today might be different tomorrow. It all sounds very chaotic but I kind of accepted that this is how it is right now and trust that wherever this is going it is for the best.
TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Ascendant’ the best ?
Our music style is a mix of many genres. Mainly we focus on Death, black, progressive, melodic and sometimes even core elements. Even though we mix up a lot of genres we do it in a way to take the advantages of all the genres to create different moods in a song. This gives for us the song some progression, which we highlight not only in the music but also in the lyrics.
If we ever were to compare our style to another band it would probably be a mix of A Hill To Die Upon and Extol though that definition is still so far away from what we actually play.
TMR: What are some key principles or phylosophies that you hold onto as foundational stones as who you are as a person? [for everyone personal]
Josua: First of all my faith in that Jesus Christ died for my soul. From there I get my code of conduct on how to treat the people I meet. I wa raised by parrents who are both christians and raised me in a non materlialistic manner, this have helped me focus on the crusial things in life and focusing on the people in the world who are suffering each day.
Levi: Well Jesus is my corner stone. I try to let Jesus affect what I do and how i see the world around myself. To regard people regardless of who they are and what they have done, and to ultimately meet them with the love of Christ. For me it can often be hard to really understand that we are all equal in the eyes of God, but nonetheless I try to do that.
Jens: Just as the other guys in the band I have been brought up in a christian family so of cause that will always be my key principles. Other than that I try to stay in the now and not get to caught up in what is going to happen in the future or what I regret I did or did not do in the past. This was actually what was on my mind when I wrote the lyrics for “The Void”.
Kristoffer: Even though I am trying to outlive the Christian values and view of life, I am failing at it daily.
I am in desperate need of Gods forgiveness through Jesus Christ every day! And he gives that to me. Totally free of charge. Awesome!
The recording was done in Aarhus in Denmark at “the underworld” which is Levi’s home studio. Here we tracked guitars, bass vocals and drums. Then Levi engineered it, re-amped guitar sounds, mixed and mastered it. Our goal for “Serenity” was to make it (of course) brutal sounding but also to have dynamics and depth. So much metal music is “dead” or “flat” sounding. We need that big 80’s sound with a little modern bite ). We achieved this by using tube mics for vocal and acoustics guitars, and then a tube preamplifier for every track, actually. It really gives a depth and a certain color to the sound, so when 30+ tracks have that, it really results in a significant sound. Also it was mastered though more analog gear.
The cd artwork is based on a picture composition that one of our very good friends Kim Sternkopf did. It is a two layer composition with an old windmill and then the tree layer on top. The layout for the cd and also online graphics is done by Levi.
TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Ascendant’ ? [for everyone personal]
Josua: The feeling of holding our debut album in my hands for the first time and thinking this was something we created, was amazing. Next to that experience was playing at EoR 14. It really was an amazing experience! Though it is not a real highlight I would not be able to have the joy of life I have today without many of the friendships I have made from being a part of the metal enviroment.
Levi: It was definitely to experience our first album; to have it in our hands and see it on Spotify and all that + reading all the very good reviews ) and of course the release of SERENITY… It was at times so stressing to have it done in time for Elements of Rock – To play there was so awesome and totally a blessing.
Jens: Well, I agree with Levi and Josua. holding the debut album and playing on EoR must be the two most significant moments and I am forever grateful that I would experience such joy. But I hope and believe there will come more moments like those.
Kristoffer: I think we had an amazing time playing in Eckernfoerde, Germany a couple of years back now. EoR and our two releases definitely shines through as well.
TMR: And the worst thing were ? (if there is one) [for everyone personal]
Josua: Playing a show where I completely lost contact with the audience and loosing my voice at the same time.
Levi: As I mentioned it was a times very stressing to work on SERENITY but in the end it was such a blessing. I don’t really have a “worst” experience. Of course it always sucks to loose the drumstick.
Jens: When we were recording Serenity I drove 230 km every weekend in February and half of Marts… on a 60 year old motorbike… with sidecar… and with an average speed of 60 km/h. And it was snowing and raining every time. The bike broke down one or two times. It was freezing cold so I could not play bass the first hour when I got there. But when I heard the result of our work I said to the others: “It can rain, snow and storm as much as it can. My bike can break down over and over again. But still, I would gladly do this again!”
Kristoffer: I have no specific incidents, but I think the worst periods of being in a band are the stressful ones where you have no time to enjoy the music. It ends up becoming an obligation.
TMR: What is the last album you bought ? [for everyone personal]
Josua: In Vain – Ænigma “what an amazing album!”
Levi: Pantokrator’s new album “Incarnate” soooo good…
Jens: Meshuggah Catch 33 and the new Extol album.
Kristoffer: I have become a Spotify guy, so I can hardly remember the last album I bought.
TMR: What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]
Levi: We have all bad (black)humor.. So basically anything. But me and Jens likes cat videos so that always cracks us up.
Jens: What he (Levi) said )
Josua: What cracks me up the most is making a practical joke on a friend whom I know can take it. Beside that I am a really into Irony.
Kristoffer: The wonderful diversity of the people around me sometimes make me laugh/smile. Furthermore I think I can agree with most of the other guys. I think our humour is quite similar even though we are very different persons. I also think humour plays an important role in our band. Not unlike the guitar player..
TMR: What is your biggest fear ? [for everyone personal]
Levi: to survive each day rather than to live it.
Jens: Well. I never actually thought of this but spiders always creeps me out, as does insects, but what I fear the most I cannot answer. Maybe to be forced by Levi to watch horror movies with him… That sucks!
TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band? [for everyone personal]
Josua: I use the most of my time on my studies but when I am not studying I use a lot of time with my friends and I have started on a course called LoveWorks in my church.
Levi: I study International Communication and Multimedia and work on different musical and creative projects doing audio engineering and also visual stuff. I am a part owner of a cloud-based company that focuses on backup and “Dropbox” like features. I also work with Sanctuary Denmark doing different Christian metal events and so on.
Jens: I always write new stuff even though it might not fit to the band. But if I do find time to do anything else it would be taking my old motorbike for a ride or walk around in the beautiful nature. Otherwise I am working as Electronic technician apprentice at Bang and Olufsen so that is also taking some of my spare time.
Kristoffer: Much of my time is spent playing music or studying it. I have been taking up piano lately since my education in musicology centres around it. I also enjoy running, cycling and spending time in nature in general.
TMR: Earlier last month you played at the annual ‘Elements Of Rock’ festival in Switzerland, what was it like ?
Despite some of the troubles we went through and the 3000 kilometer ride in car, it was a huge experience. David our liveguitarist had to cancel 10 hours before our scheduled departure from Aarhus due to high fever. But despite that the show went great! Element of Rock is an amazing festival, highly professional! The sound on stage and the lights was all great, and not to forget the audience which from the start of our show engaged in the sphere we try to create with the music and atleast from our perspective we felt as a unity with the audience. We really want to thank the people behind the festival, the audience and everyone who came after the concert and spoke to us or bought some of our stuff!
TMR: How do you promote your band and shows ?
We focus on reaching fans throughout facebook, by creating events and such. We want to give a special thanks to the guys who are helping us promote us, without you guys making music would not such a joy as it is.
Josua: I always try to get my heartbeat up and do some vocal warmups before entering the stage. All together we have a little talk and a prayer before starting the show.
Levi: At our latest concert in Switzerland I could feel that I really needed to be kind of angry and to have adrenalin running. I need to sweat before I enter the stage so my muscles is ready for drumming. Also I could feel the importance of having the right mindset also, so we pray together and put God in focus, and for me I think of what the songs are about when we play them, so that I can project that energy out.
Jens: As Josua I like to warm up the voice. Other than that I try to control my nervousness and find peace in the moment, while going through our material in my mind.
TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]
Josua: Not that many, for a student it is not that affordable to go to too many shows, unfortunately. The music I am listening to these days is especially In Vain and A Hill To Die Upon. But I also listen to a lot of non metal music especially Hymns From Nineveh (check them out)
Levi: yeah just as Josua the economy is not so good, but last year I saw Nile live and that was perhaps one of the greatest shows I have been to. Right now I listen to Pantokrator, Extol, always Metallica, For Today, Sammath Naur, different jazz and classical stuff. Every morning starts with classical music, preferably Bach, Chopin or Liszt.
Jens: The last gig I was attending was Meshuggah and it was amazing but I think it was almost a year ago so, no not that much. But right now I am listening to some of the older Meshuggah, the new Extol and as a huge fan of Opeth I am always listening to their tracks.
Kristoffer: Economy is an issue for me as well. However, I try to catch free shows whenever possible. I currently listen to a lot of classical and folk music. I am also into the Icelandic music scene.
TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live [past and future] and tell us why ? [for everyone personal]
Levi: all of our good Danish (Christian) metal band-friends: Unseen Faith, Captain Roselyn, Magtesløs, Prayers From the Abyss, and occasionally A Hill To Die Upon and Pantokrator.
Jens: Same as Levi. It is always a blessing to play with our friends from Denmark
TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]
Josua: People asking me if I am going to be prime minister since I am studying political science….
Jens: People looking at my motorbike asking: “Is this a moped?”
TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands ?
To work together and being rock stars + keeping the fire going. And forgetting to talk about what expectations each members have.
TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
Be totally anti-rockstars and go out and meet people. Recognize that kid standing in the corner of the merch table who are shy and just want to talk. Definitely be role models of Christ!
TMR: What are your plans for the near future ? [Full-lenght album or a European tour maybe ?]
Well we never stop writing so be sure to expect a new album in the future. Right now we are promoting our new release SERENITY, playing concerts and maybe some more exiting stuff…!!
After all the great response, we have a lot of courage in going into writng mode again.
TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview. We wish ‘Ascendant’ all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]
We would like to thank Jeremy Thurmond from Metalhelm.com for not only being a great partner but also a great friend. We are right now in negotiations on signing with his newly made label Shigionoth Records, so that we can have the EP distributed in USA!
“The Alteration” (2012) [review]
“Serenity” EP (2014)
Video below ‘Let’s Mout Up’ [Live at EOR 2014]