Doom metal needs darkness. Grindcore needs brutality. And black metal, usually, needs evil. But any band that ventures into the perfected-in-America realm of psychedelic sludge needs anthems. Most notably in the last decade, an ambitious spate of riff-heavy southerners have been putting a stronger focus on balancing the melodic side of metal with its most searing, visceral qualities, with bands like Mastodon, Baroness, Torche and Kylesa leading the pack. And with names like that crowding the field, if you intend to be noticed, you had better have some spectacular tunes. For Copenhagen’s Rising, however, that’s not a problem.
With a thick, crunchy groove reminiscent of some of the aforementioned American acts that have been luring curious rockers to the darkside in recent years, Rising can sling sludge with the best of them, suitably showing off their skills in serving up burly and dense rippers on debut album To Solemn Ash. And Rising carry within those grooves some Maiden-sized hooks and melodies worthy of their own legendary countrymen, Mercyful Fate. With songs like the pounding leadoff track “Mausoleum” in their arsenal, packed with harmonized vocals and guitars, they ensure the listener receives an experience simultaneously engineered for sweaty pit encounters and lighter-raising sing-alongs.
So yeah, Rising definitely has anthems. And those that comprise the ten tracks on To Solemn Ash run a pretty wide range at that. There’s a cool swagger to the opening of “Sea of Basalt,” a restrained, bad-ass-ness that briefly recalls Danzig’s “Mother” before it speeds up into a militant chug, and a truly mighty, and mighty catchy, chorus. That downtempo fake-out trick likewise makes a fun tease for “Hunter’s Crown,” which makes an unexpected leap from slow, doom-y rumble to an uptempo waltz with riffs ablaze. With “Through the Eyes of Catalysis,” however, the band doesn’t bother with false starts, they cut straight to the high speed chase, their meaty power chord punch zooming toward a brief but nonetheless dazzling solo. And “Heir to Flames” is a rock solid ass kicker of the highest order, as much an awesome rock ‘n’ roll song as it is great metal.
Rising do a lot of things well – fierce riffs, impenetrable rhythms, an altogether jaw-dropping display of sheer heft. But their greatest asset is their songwriting ability. This is a band that isn’t afraid to let their melodies speak the loudest, nor do they seem the type to shy away from some crowd-sourced gang vocals. Metal always needs anthems, and To Solemn Ash boasts some incredible ones.
Baroness – Blue Record
Mastodon – Leviathan
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Stream: Rising – “Mausoleum”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.