The Ascent Of Everest - From This Vantage

Sam Lee 24/05/2010

Rating: 1.5/5

I couldn't wait to listen to this album. The press release that came with claims that "As earthquakes and tsunamis crash and pound to reshape the landscape, so too will 'From This Vantage', as it sends you on an unforgettable journey and leaves you mesmerised." Now that sounded pretty impressive, I thought. So I eagerly rushed to put the sophomore album from Tennessee-based orchestral-rockers The Ascent Of Everest into my CD player. I pressed play and sat back down, trembling slightly, nervously awaiting the earth moving experience that was surely about to ensue.

As the intro to the opening track 'Trapped Behind Silence' slowly faded in, I held my breath, just waiting for the song to kick into life. But after nearly three minutes of not much happening apart from my face gradually turning an unhealthy shade of blue, it faded back out again. Strange, I thought. But then 'Return To Us' crashed in with it's epic Arcade Fire-esque strings and pounding beat. "Here we go!" I said to myself. But after showing a minute or so of promise, the song died back down again, and became just as dull as the previous track. And that's when it began to dawn on me; maybe the press release had been telling porkies. Maybe the whole landscape-reshaping, natural-disaster thing had been a bit of an exaggeration.

My suspicions were confirmed by the third track 'Dark, Dark My Light' , as, although there's a hint of something that could perhaps be a good song underneath all of its slightly pretentious pizzicato strings and harpsichord, it doesn't really go anywhere. The next track is the soothing and more light-hearted 'Safely Caged In Bone', which is the highlight of the album, mainly because it's the only song that even comes close to making me feel any sort of real emotion. But then 'Sword and Shield', 'Every Fear' and 'In And Through' all merge together into a sort of drawn-out grey mush, and the eighth and final track 'From This Vantage' just drones by in a forgettable, uninteresting kind of way.

Here's a bit of friendly advice to bands who use vocals sparsely in their songs (listen up, The Ascent Of Everest). If you're going to leave the vocals out, something else has to provide the melody and the hooks. You can't just ignore them altogether. Unfortunately, The Ascent Of Everest do exactly that for the majority of 'From This Vantage', meaning it becomes mere background music. I don't even mean like the good, ambient sort of background music; this is more like a peripheral annoyance, like the ticking of a clock, or the gentle rattle of a broken fridge. There are no real dynamics and very little movement throughout the entire thing, and as it's almost forty-five minutes long (despite only having eight tracks), this results in one very boring record. Whatever the press release says, this album won't be reshaping anything, and it won't leave you mesmerised - just a little put out that you've wasted three quarters of an hour listening to it, when you could have been fixing that pesky fridge.

Release Date: 01/06/2010