The Ascent of Everest - From this Vantage (2010)

The Ascent of Everest is one of the rare bands capable of evoking an authentic cinematic soundscape in their music. Many are quick to lump token acts like Yndi Halda or the notorious Explosions In the Sky into the same category of “epic,” but those bands make music that’s more in line with the common song, rather than an orchestral work. They’re big on structure, and cling to traditional rock instruments. With The Ascent of Everest, you get a sound that’s more timeless – it’s got less of a distinguishable formula, and is much more Howard Shore-y in quality. 

On From This Vantage, the Nashville, Tennessee group continues the mission they began on the split with We All Inherit the Moon last year: to sever ties with post-rock. Though they’re probably most well known within the post-rock scene, this 8-track full length sees the distance between the band and the genre elongate, but with terrible beauty. “Return to Us” is the first sign of this, laying wailing, undecipherable vocals down on a lush bed of strings, fluttering guitars, and harmonic melody. It swoops around gracefully for a few minutes, and then accelerates through shrieking noise into a soft resolve. 

“Safely Caged in Bone” takes cues from classical music when it layers saccharine violin notes over pulsing cellos. Later, choir vocals direct the song flow, notching another contrast with textbook post-rock. The same goes for “Sword and Shield,” which romps through two different motifs before finishing with a powerful angelic chorus. That’s one lesson from post-rock they didn’t completely ditch: climaxes are still super sweet. The vibraphone appearance on it is a spooky, delightful treat, too. But while “Every Fear” and “In and Through” combine seamlessly to make one massive, climax-ridden, cello extravaganza, the most mesmerizing track is probably still the five minute closer “From this Vantage.” Its arching strings and icy, teasing female staccatos practically make it fit to be the soundtrack to the birth of Christ.

Without patronizing post-rock, it’s hard not to agree with The Ascent of Everest’s direction. Instrumental music can be a breathtaking experience all by itself, but the human voice adds an extra dimension; it adds the element of humanity in all its flaws and imperfections, whether in sorrow, angst, or in this case, violent beauty. By choosing this route, The Ascent of Everest has produced something enduring, with a captivating quality rivaled by few. If "From This Vantage" isn’t music from eternity, it sure comes pretty close.

The Ascent of Everest
From this Vantage
Album art: 
Release date: 

1. Trapped Behind Silence
2. Return To Us
3. Dark, Dark My Light
4. Safely Caged In Bone
5. Sword And Shield
6. Every Fear
7. In And Through
8. From This Vantage

Music label: 
Shels Music
Average: 4.1 (20 votes)
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