Covering a lead single acoustically? A standard feature of any contemporary rock band. Covering a whole album acoustically? Now, that’s a totally different ball game. For post-hardcore outfit, A Skylit Drive, that’s exactly what ball game they played with their recently released effort ‘Rise’, re-entitling it ‘Rise: Ascension’.
From their body of work, A Skylit Drive have polarised post-hardcore fans. So, when an announcement was made that they would be re-recording an entire album acoustically, it raised a few eyebrows. Not to mention that the re-working comes not long after the loss of two of their members, triggering another band change.
Needless to say, this was always going to be an ambitious effort. Taking a whole body of material and re-telling it in a stripped back fashion could have dire consequences. But, fortunately, A Skylit Drive had ideas on their side.
His voice could be found in dozens of modern day post-hardcore band vocalists, pulling off the same whine infested vocals, but Michael Jagmin truly flourishes here. Harmonies and hooks galore, Jagmin seems in his element here. From projecting his voice on ‘I, Enemy’ to showcasing his more tender side on ‘Just Stay’, it seems as though he has been given freedom to explore.
Probably the biggest trick that A Skylit Drive have in their arsenal with this record is the instrumentation. Rather than pandering to the common conception that an acoustic record is simply a guitar and a voice, the band had other ideas. The incorporation of strings compliment Jagmin‘s vocals in areas and the nifty guitar work in areas are a pleasant surprise.
That all being said, ‘Rise: Ascension’ is not a shining beacon of musicianship that must be heard the world over. It’s just not. Rather, it’s an ambitious idea which has shed light onto a new side of a band which we had not previously seen before. And it has worked well.
A Skylit Drive will surprise many with this record. It’s a prime example of a band going for broke and allowing their ideas to expand into something pleasant and laudable. However, that being said, it doesn’t amount to something extraordinary. Rather, it’s a step in the right direction in a midst of change for the band.
Written by Calvin Robinson (@CalvParty)