Denmark sludgers Rising dump prog, doom and power into their swamp

When I think of sludgy, muddy metal, my mind tends to gravitate toward the southern portion of the United States. Georgia and the Carolinas, more specifically. That usually is where that stuff is cranked out factory-style these days, so when you get a hold of a debut album from a relatively new group that puts together many of the same traits as bands such as Mastodon, Baroness and Black Tusk, it’s easy to assume that’s the area from where the artists hail.

If you took on “From Solemn Ash,” the first album from Rising, you’d be wrong to figure they also are swimming neck-deep in the southern comfort. In fact, the band doesn’t even hail from the U.S. at all, instead calling Denmark home. There’s a curveball for you. But they don’t just do sludge by numbers or anything. They also add elements of doom, power metal, ’70s psychedelic/prog rock and even some hardcore into their recipe, so while they have a similar sound to the artists mentioned above, they by no means sound like copies. The band has its own touch, and if you played their music alongside, say, Mastodon or Baroness, you easily could pick Rising from the pack.

“From Solemn Ash” is out on Exile on Mainstream, and folks in Europe could have gotten their mitts on this disc last fall. As for us in the United States, we didn’t get a release until this year, so the record remains fresh to us. The album has its share of abject heaviness and monstrous stomping, but Rising also have a knack for meaty hooks, leading your mind to follow along right until the chorus strikes. It’s not poppy or anything, so don’t think of it that way, but the fellows know how to make their songs stick.

The trio – vocalist/bassist Henrik Hald, guitarist Jacob Krogholt, drummer Jacob Johansen – puts its cards on the table on the opener “Mausoleum,” a doomy, punchy song that’s easy to remember and, as mentioned above, gets you good on the chorus. From there they make stops to “Sea of Basalt,” that should excite fans of High on Fire and Kylesa and keeps the record quaking along; “Cohorts Rise” has a cleaner opening and stays mid-tempo for the most part, but it starts really trucking as it draws to an end; “Through the Eyes of Catalysis” drops an anvil right away, launching with classic Iron Maiden-style speedy guitar runs, melting into grimy mashing and shining with really strong guitar work from Krogholt; “Under Callous Wings” lets Hald unleash some throatier vocals. For the most part, he sings fairly cleanly on this record, but with a hint of ill intent in his voice, but here, he just kind of lets things go. “Heir to the Flames” is the one that’ll remind listeners the most of early Mastodon, especially with the cleaner guitar passages trickling under the fires; and closer “Seven Riders” is a bit more plodding than the title seems to indicate, but that doesn’t hurt the song any. It’s pummeling.

I’m interested in hearing how Rising’s version of sludge-based metal shapes and shifts throughout the years as they grow as a band and perhaps let more of their peripheral influences into their music. They could end up being one of the more unique bands in the metal universe, and if they do, that would make “From Solemn Ash” just a first step, albeit a pretty stellar one.

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