Review by Shannon Shumaker
A Skylit Drive’s Rise: Ascension is a gorgeous interpretation of their full-length, Rise, released in 2013. While many artists have released acoustic records in the past year, it is definitely safe to say that Rise: Ascension stands apart from the pack.
The first thing that stands out about this album is the way that A Skylit Drive have managed to keep their incredible energy that can be found in the original versions of many of these tracks. A great example of this is the first song, “Save Me Tragedy.” While it is acoustic, don’t expect a stripped down or mellow version of the explosive track. The energy in the acoustic version of “Save Me Tragedy” is still very high and the song structure is nearly identical to the original version, topped off with some strong vocals. That same high energy can also be found in tracks like “Rise,” “Crazy” and “Wide Awake.”
The incredible guitar work and overall guitar tone throughout Rise: Ascension is another selling point on this album. “Said & Done” hosts some of the strongest acoustic guitar work on the entire album. A Skylit Drive keep the guitar parts on this track intricate and fast, which makes for an incredible listen and drives home an important point: this isn’t any regular acoustic album. On top of the phenomenal guitar work, the added string section throughout the album is stellar. The string instruments really add a whole new level to tracks such as “Save Me Tragedy,” “Unbreakable” and “Crash Down,” making them sound fuller and more theatrical. While vocally, many of the songs are identical to Rise, the incredible guitar work and string section really set this album apart from its predecessor.
One of the only things that I don’t personally like on Rise: Ascension is that the vocals can tend to sound almost too produced for an acoustic album. While this record definitely breaks stereotypes for acoustic records, I would have enjoyed hearing some stripped down vocals on some songs. That’s not to say, however, that the vocals are lacking. For the fuller, theatrical sound that A Skylit Drive went for on this album, they definitely mesh well. “Just Stay” is the only “cliche” mellow acoustic track on the album, and it’s emotional, raw and heartbreaking. The strings in this track are beautiful and the guitar work is flawless. Though I do wish the vocals were a little more stripped down, they sound absolutely incredible on this track.
Many bands released acoustic albums and EPs in 2014, but none of them really did it in the way that A Skylit Drive has with this release. Rise: Ascension is full, theatrical and energetic. The movement and incredible guitar work throughout this album make it a total standout and an absolute must listen. The sound that A Skylit Drive has found on this acoustic album is different, and that’s what makes it so strong.
Listen to "Said & Done"