Making a big impression with their well-received debut album back in 2013, UK alternative rock band City Of Ashes now release its successor Rise; an encounter easy to imagine finding an equal if not bigger success. Consisting of eleven heart bred and melodically provocative tracks, the album confirms and pushes on the promise of predecessor All We Left Behind. In some ways, the band’s sound has not made any major leaps from the last album, or the EP before it, yet there is an open new maturity to songwriting and the bolder emotive imagination involved which alone grabs attention.
Since forming in 2009 and releasing the Then There Was A Hand In The Darkness EP, with All We Left Behind swiftly following, City Of Ashes has played all across the UK, sharing stages with the likes of Skindred, Exit Ten, Polar, Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Fei Comodo, Hildamay, and Young Guns along the way. Subsequent performances on their tour with Trapt only enhanced a reputation already ripe through their first album. Now it is the self-released Rise about to lure fresh attention the way of the Eastbourne quartet; an aim, as suggested earlier, easy to see succeeding to some potent degree.
Uprising is first up and swiftly lays an evocative melodic caress on ears as darker hues bring just as alluring shadows. The impressive vocals of Orion Powell quickly add their prowess backed by great band harmonies. The track is only a brief lure into the album but an attention grabbing one setting up the appetite for the following Vipers Nest. A sonic web of hooks and riffs descend on the senses first as the firm beats of Dan Russell make a thick impact with the brooding bass line of Dan Frederick in close attention. Soon bound in the melodic enterprise of James Macdonald and coloured by the expressive tones of Powell, the song easily catches the imagination with a touch of Placebo meets Manic Street Preachers to its broader alternative rock character.
Both Battles Of My Youth and Walk Away keep the strong start going; the first with its anthemic roar and intimate tone amidst vocal and melodic suggestiveness whilst the second shares even more intensive angst in its melancholic cry. Again Powell impresses; the drama of his delivery an emotive flame within the more subdued but no less enticing rhythms and the creative adventure of Macdonald’s fingers on strings.
A delicious brooding bassline and core riff marks out Bittersweet next, that and a climatic feel to its emotional and sonic intensity, whilst Save Me carries a lively simmer to its bubbly melodies and crisp beats to equally grip ears and appetite. Whether there are any major surprises within the songs and indeed album can be argued, but each offering has something fresh and imaginative to its character and invention which draws attention easily as here or greedily as by the outstanding Iliad. Unstoppably emerging the album’s favourite track, it is a haunted and darkly lit proposal with a slow prowl as portentous as it is inviting. Matching his surroundings, Powell’s voice also ebbs and flows in raw emotion as rhythms and riffs border on stalking the senses. Provocative theatre in the ears, the song simply steals the show.
Bloodlust has a similarly hued nature to its canvas but a far lighter and vivacious air to its emotive outpouring and subsequent fiery expulsions whilst Sometimes provides a croon fuelled by apprehensive words and emotions cradled in orchestral like melodic sensitivity. Both songs keep enjoyment high before Confessions raises the album’s game again with its earnest roar.
Closing with the sober but potent sharing of the heart that is We Own The Night, band and album leaves pleasure a strong reaction to its imaginative and tenacious endeavours. Rise is a strong continuation of the band’s previous releases, if not a dramatic leap forward. As suggested earlier though, it is a more rounded and mature adventure embracing all the already recognised City Of Ashes qualities and more; and their most impressive outing yet.
Rise is out now @ http://cityofashes.bigcartel.com/
Pete RingMaster 25/03/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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