Crushing Axes - Ascension of Ules (4,5/10) - Brazil - 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal / Progressive Folk / Death Metal
Playing time: 33:10
Band homepage: Crushing Axes
Decay of the Almighty
Long Way to Nowhere
Journey through the Dark
Abyss of Death
A Flash of Memories
The Return (Invading the Garden)
Final Consideration (Vazio)
Crushing Axes - Ascension of Ules
As a reviewer, it’s so easy and enjoyable to condemn bands that have everything going for them – money and equipment, fanboys and groupie whores, talent (?). When they crash and burn, it generally has little to do with financial restraint, and more to do with a drought in imagination/inspiration. Sure, these shortages in creativity happen to everyone now and again, but when the desire is strong, even two sticks can build a fire.
CRUSHING AXES, a Brazilian one-man band helmed by the industrious Alexandre Rodrigues, is an example of Metal’s less than affluent side. In an effort to construct his own Progressive Death Metal masterpiece, Rodrigues valiantly composed and engineered “Ascension of Ules,” a multi-layered concept album draped in the blood and sweat of its lone creator. Segregated into three acts – Decadence of Evil, Banned Pilgrim, and Ashes of Divinity – the album’s scope was undoubtedly meant as something grand, and for Rodrigues, perhaps it is, but because of the technical limitations that ultimately amplify the album’s musical shortcomings, “Ascension of Ules” jumbles as a piece-by-piece jigsaw puzzle that never truly comes together.
Slated as Death Metal, this genre tag is a tricky one. There are Death growls and some occasional tremolo riffing, but that’s about it. Keyboards are just as prevalent as anything you’ll find on the album, and they deliver a consistent barrage of programmed Folk elements that vary between organ (“Misanthropy”), flute (“Awakening”), sitar (“Long Way to Nowhere”), and was that bagpipes I heard on “Journey through the Dark”? This vast assemblage of choral chants and instrumentation (albeit all stemming from a keyboard) add a curious endearment to “Ascension of Ules,” but conversely, their integration is so random and distracting that Rodrigues’ unflappable enthusiasm must be to blame.
While an ardent will to create something unique awards Rodrigues’ CRUSHING AXES huge points, the truth of the matter is that this album is too barebones and too rudimentary to be considered effective. Perhaps due to Rodrigues’ zeal to play everything himself – not sure if this is due to egotism or a severe lack of Metalheads in Sao Paulo – “Ascension of Ules,” in spite of its wealth of sounds, is strangely quiet. Rather than overlapping, Rodrigues generally opts to play the instruments as separate entities; a quality that saps the album of whatever power it may have unleashed.
While the guitar and keyboard pieces stand strong, the album’s most significant drawbacks are unfortunate spoils of the do-it-yourself philosophy; the muffled production sound, the mechanical drumming, the vacuous spacing, Rodrigues’ very shoddy clean vocals (“Abyss of Death”). In fact, the most memorable song of the album is very un-Metal; “Flagellated Mind” is a lullaby of sorts that’s carried aloft by a soothing piano line and the enchanting voice of Jessica Araujo.
Although the majority of “Ascension of Ules” simply doesn’t work, it remains a feat to denounce the effort of Rodrigues. If given a bit of financial backing and a cast of professional guest musicians, CRUSHING AXES has the potential to be an interesting new player in the realm of Progressive Metal. However, as it currently stands, there is simply too much work to be done for me to recommend this on a wide scale. Inquisitive and intrepid parties should inquire.
Me(n)tal Note: Hear for yourself. All of CRUSHING AXES’ albums can be downloaded for free from the Myspace page.
(Online August 16, 2011)