Ascendancy, the group''s second album and their first on Roadrunner Records, is filled with carefully crafted songs that surge with energy, passion and originality. Like their solid 2003 debut Ember to Inferno, Ascendancy is rooted in ''80s and ''90s thrash, recalling the glory days of Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, and Testament. But the new disc doesn''t stop there, incorporating aspects of melodic death metal and even prog-rock. Twin guitar harmonies and point/counterpoint dynamics abound, twisting around vocals that alternate from melodic and pained to caustic and full of rage. "We had so much more to work with this time," says guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Heafy of the Jason Suecof-produced disc. "I had great guitar sounds, Travis [Smith, drums] is playing like a machine, and the vocals are so much more multi-dimensional."
While the first album, lyrically, addressed romantic disillusionment and child abuse, this time the songs confront spousal abuse, suicide, depression, tyranny and freedom of speech. However, even at his most poignant, Heafy prefers expressing gut emotion to preaching. "I''ve found that when you have a negative aspect in your life, you can find so much negativity in other people''s lives around you, and in the world. For me, it''s good to write about the negativity to get some of it out of my system."
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