Ascensum Serpens

Malignant Asceticism

Honestly, what is it with Black Metal bands and only revealing their initials? Does it […]
By Dorothy Cheng
October 3, 2013
Malignant Asceticism - Ascensum Serpens album cover

Honestly, what is it with Black Metal bands and only revealing their initials? Does it serve an actual purpose or is it just to add to the "effect"? Okay, now that I've got that out of my system...

To begin with, 10 minutes is disappointingly inadequate for the band to truly showcase what they've got, and they have got quite a lot to offer. They are not mind-blowingly fresh or out of the box, but there is something about their musical character that lends an extra edge of mysticism and eccentricity to them, on top of the already mysterious initials they have as names. Listeners tend to expect new things from the more underground and obscure acts because they think they are less restricted by labels. But the truth is, everyone has their own panache, and when it comes to Black Metal, it is more apparent than ever.

Black Metal in itself can be quite experimental. It is mostly built on atmosphere, used to carry its structurally simple albeit dynamic music to new lengths. MALIGNANT ASCETICISM seems to know this fact and exploit it skillfully to deliver the most eerie and blood-curdling sensations with their music. From chanting to squeaking guitars to cinematic editing, the band throws you into a Texas Chainsaw Massacre stop-motion circus horror soundtrack, building on the growing atmosphere of dread and real horror.

The guitars come in very effectively here with dissonant soaring and tremolo fervor, harping about the higher registers of the guitar and squeezing every cringe-worthy note from the instrument out and manipulating it into becoming part of the sound effects in this horror movie. The bass thumps away like a killer would as he stalks you in the hallways of some deserted hotel, loud and brash. Vocalist P.T. is a perfect narrator for the entire scene, with more endurance than I've seen recently from other acts and a strong sustain factor - a factor which many vocalists underestimate and under-use. It's always the tipping point between good vocals and bad vocals for me when a vocalist knows how to sustain and draw out an echo from his screams.
The drums add to the blasting sensations of the songs, kicking in thunderous footwork and throwing the atmosphere into frenzy of panic.

So as you can see, they do have quite a bit to offer. They have talent in manipulating and giving images to sounds, being theatrical and orchestral and viciously creepy. They can do a lot with the Black Metal genre, but I wish there was more than two tracks. Leaving it just like that was what killed the atmosphere for me, making it all too easy to forget their work. My advice, take a leap of faith of go all the way, take after some of the more impressionistic and experimental bands of Black Metal and release a full-length that would make the most obscure of all pretentious Black Metal bands hail you without hesitation.

7 / 10


"Ascensum Serpens" Track-listing:

1. Seventh Breath
2. The Black Dance

Malignant Asceticism Lineup:

D.S. - Bass
C.A. - Drums
V.G. - Guitars
P.T. - Vocals, Guitars

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