Southern Indiana seems a long ways away from Europe, but Symphony of Heaven bring the death metal on The Ascension of Extinction (ep) that would fit right in with the likes of Antestor, Slechtvalk, and Behemoth.
From the opening fast riffs and driving rhythm of “You Shall Be As Gods”, the song literally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me awake. I was instantly reminded of the last Slechtvalk album I reviewed Where Wandering Shadows and Mists Collide back in 2016. The main verses have that dark, heavy element that drives the song along with the deep shouted vocals keeping pace and the rhythm section adding an almost groove feel. I like how the song has a bit of a more peaceful interlude before picking back up and shifting to a double bass driven pummeling to the end. Production for the genre is great, guitars and drums easily distinguishable and the vocals clear…at least for the genre.
The title track, “The Ascension of Extinction”, is a bit more straightforward death metal at least in the beginning with the fast guitar riff and drums but then slows a bit with some female spoken words and some black metal sounding near shriek-like vocals breaking up the song and providing a nice contrast to the shouted, deeper death metal growls that fill the rest of the song. Throughout, the guitars are heavy and the drums nicely punctuate the overall sound.
“DeathMarch” is the first video from the ep and serves as a good introduction to the band’s sound in general, although the song features some symphonic elements that are not as present in the mix for the other tracks. After the pummeling opening section, the song settles briefly into a softer (ha) sound for a bit before shifting back into characteristic European blackened death metal with strong guitar riffs and prominent double bass driving the song. As in the opening of the song, there is some preacher-like spoken sections in the rest of the song but they are fit within the overall context of the music, keeping the heaviness intact.
“Mountain of Main’s Ignorance” closes out the ep and finds the band again shifting more toward an overall groove feel while not leaving the death metal. In terms of overall structure and arrangement, this song would be more similar to a melodic death metal track one would find with bands like Immortal Souls, but Symphony of Heaven manage to keep their heaviness intact even in this format. The near desperation-like sound in the vocals really adds to the intensity of the track.
Symphony of Heaven have managed to create an ep filled with blackened death metal that makes the listener want more and my main issue with the release is that it’s only an ep. Lyrically the band addresses the inevitable fall of man as we turn from the divine to our own created gods and musically, the band brings that overwhelming dark heaviness that highlights the inevitable despair this shift will bring. Look out for this ep and keep an eye on the band for the full length which is in the works.
Written by John Jackson
1. You Shall Be as Gods
2. The Ascension of Extinction
4. Mountain of Man’s Ignorance
Logan Thompson – Guitars, vocals
David Napier – Guitars, bass
Eero Tertsunen – Bass, Guitars
Mason Beard – Drums
Release Date: Sept. 2020
Record Label: Rottweiler Records
Video for ‘DeathMarch’