Anyone that has ventured into the Thulcandra back catalogue has probably noticed this German black metal band seem to exist as a living shrine to one of the former giants of the genre. Although their Dissection worship has decreased with every release, recent album Ascension Lost (Napalm) has not truly shaken off the homage to the band, with veins of Reinkaos (Black Horizon) rippling throughout.
Despite being inspired by such revered material, Ascension Lost leaves very little impression. Lacking any distinct identity or style of its own, the material passes by you with only vague echo of a few musical moments really standing out at the end. Ascension Lost falls into the trap of becoming black metal by numbers, filling in all the tremolos and blasts in all the right places to make a black metal track, but it lacks the atmosphere that is so crucial to the genre. It’s hard to deny the bands technical proficiency in both playing and song writing, but the music is devoid of personality. Being the side project of Obscura’s Steffen Kummerer, it is hardly surprising that technicality has taken preference that leaves the record lacking.
Fans of the band will already know what to expect from the album. The songs follow a similar style to their previous work and this album is no departure from this. Ascension Lost remains enjoyable boasting impressive riffs and drumming, but is also distinctly unmemorable. As the title suggests, Thulcandra haven’t ascended to any level of brilliance with this record and until they break from their Dissection homage, are unlikely to any time soon.