While Fear Factory is not a band I like to listen to, Burton C. Bell and John Bechdel of (at the time) Fear Factory had a side project going called Ascension of the Watchers. I first listened to this CD years ago and was mesmerized by some of the tracks. After all of this time, does the album still hold up well?
Released in February of 2008, Numinosum is the 2nd full length by Ascension of the Watchers (AotW) released on 13th Planet Records. Numinosum isn’t so much of a full length new album as it is an expansion and remaster of Iconoclast, their first album. The five songs featured on Iconoclast are all present on Numinosum, and sound much better than the original shape they took. In fact, I would say the majority of the best tracks on Numinosum are those from Iconoclast. However, I am getting ahead of myself.
AotW is a tough band to describe. While not wholly original in any way, I would say this band plays a light alternative rock style of music, with subtle hints of many other genres such as post-industrial, post-rock, folk, ambient, and even some stoner rock vocals among other genres. Burton C. Bell’s vocals are a great departure from the yells he is known for in Fear Factory, and have a largely mundane and flat sound. The vocals fit well with the style of music on the larger part of this album.
While the album itself is not completely strong, there are many tracks that I really enjoyed when the album first came out as I do today. Evading, Residual Presence, and Canon For My Beloved are all featured at the beginning of the album and are by far my top tracks. Canon For My Beloved is my favorite of the bunch. It begins with a record scratching and wolf howling. Dark and mysterious drumming and melody comes in bringing thoughts to mind of a camp fire in a dark forest. It is great. These three songs alone I feel are enough to give the band a chance. Following this though, the album is pretty hard to stomach. While On The River is a decent song, the rest of the album really loses my attention and has some downright terrible tracks. Violet Morning is one such song, with boring acoustic guitar and vocals that sound like Bell has no clue what he is doing and has never sang before. The song sounds like some sort of children’s song gone wrong. There is also a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence, but it pales in comparison to the original with too much of a heavy emphasis on AotW’s muffled drumming and jumbled instrumentation.
While this album does hold fond memories for me with the few aforementioned tracks I enjoyed, it does not do enough to save the overall package. I would give Ascension of the Watchers another chance if they were to ever put out another release, but I cannot recommend seeking out this album to purchase. At most, I would check out the songs I mentioned. They are still pretty good to listen to from time to time.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Atmospheric Rock, Experimental, Folk, Etc.
Label: 13th Planet Records
Location: Los Angeles, California; United States
Release: February 19th, 2008
3. Residual Presence
4. Canon for My Beloved
6. Mars Becoming
7. On The River
8. Violet Morning
9. Like Falling Snow
10. Sounds of Silence