Nine Lashes formed in 2006 but it wasn’t until their second album (first album with Tooth & Nail Records) “World We View” that they gained mainstream rock recognition. The album which had an alternative metal and hard rock feel put them on a pedestal, making fans and critics alike agree on the potential of the band to walk the path of great bands before them like RED, Disciple and Skillet.
Sadly after that album, they have failed to live up to that expectation experimenting constantly with their sound (although they had a few great moments in “From Water to War”) and giving the impression that the band hasn’t made a decision on their creative direction.
Ascend follows this trend, an electropop/pop rock album with CCM elements, the album begins with “Heartbeats” a catchy song with an upbeat chorus marking a good beginning to the album. “Deeper” the next track is quite bland and sounds like a bad rendition of an Anthem Lights song. Jeremy Dunn’s vocals sounds very out of place and this is a re-occurring trend throughout the album.
The title track “Ascend” has a steady “clap along” beat and gets marks for consistency and Jeremy’s beautiful vocals but really doesn’t have much more to offer. “The Chosen” and “The Glorious” are both good songs that probably will get a lot of airplay on Christian Contemporary Radio for their lyrical depth and congregational worship potential.
“Galaxy” and “Eyes on You” are like a pinch in the back reminding you that you’re listening to an ill-conceived electronic album with little or no dash of creativity. Between the disarray of “Galaxy” and the blandness of “Eyes on You”, “Brand New Life” is a real shocker standing out as the only song in the album that sounds even remotely rock. Its pop rock undertone is still heavily electronically influenced but at the very least you finally get to hear some guitars.
“Stolen” as a track is fairly decent and is the only electropop song on the album that is on par with the first track if not better. It’s one of those songs where everything is done just right and Jeremy’s vocals didn’t sound lacklustre here.
“Love Still Shines” and “Christ in Me” bring Ascend to a close with both songs standing out as Christian Contemporary Radio potential favourites.
No matter how one decides to look as this album it really doesn’t live up to expectations. For old fans of the band this album is going to be a complete disappointment because it’s a total deviation from what the band is known for. Literally every shred of the term “Rock” has been stripped from their sound and it leaves a really awful taste in the mouth.
For new fans, they are going to be found wanting and left unsatisfied because the album didn’t even deliver in its genre. The idea may have been great, but the execution was totally off and it left them sounding like they were trying too hard.
How they intend to proceed as a band is the big question on all our minds. I can only hope that they stay true to their message and give fans (both old and new) a record worth holding on to in future.