Although Farewell to Midnight is technically As We Ascend’s debut, it would be difficult to categorize it in anywhere near the same league as your usual hard rock freshman fare.
As We Ascend is a trio formed by guitarists and vocalists Justin Forshaw and Jake Jones, both formerly of We As Human, and drummer Robert Venable, best known for his work as a producer (his impressive resume includes work with diverse names like twenty one pilots, Kelly Clarkson, Megadeth and Disciple). The three veterans create a special kind of musical chemistry on Farewell to Midnight, proving out of the gate that their work ethic, passion and dedication to the craft of rock and roll are unparalleled.
As you might expect from a group formed by guitarists, songs like “Hatchet,” “We Fight” and “Watch the World Burn” display full-bodied riffs paired with searing solos. The fact that these songs are so grounded in the guitar presence is refreshing for those who might have been missing that element in recent years. The guitar work never strays into self-indulgent territory however, with songs like the addictive album highlight “Tell Me” showing off As We Ascend’s ability to balance guitars with percussion and vocal hooks to serve the needs of the song. Similarly, punchy “When the Gun Goes” features hefty guitar riffs that carry the song without overpowering it.
Justin Forshaw and Jake Jones both hold their own in their new roles as joint vocalists of As We Ascend, their voices transitioning back and forth seemingly effortlessly. Vulnerable ballad “At My Door,” which also features a guest vocal from 3 Doors Down vocalist Brad Arnold, provides a canvas for the full range of As We Ascend’s vocal dynamic to be displayed. “At My Door” also captures a subtle but poignant message of hope in Christ as the bridge sings “will I let go of the past and live for tomorrow / will I curse the hour glass as it bleeds through the night? / Can I sing for the memories without words of sorrow / sing for the hope I have when Jesus comes?”
“Insulate” is another track that shows clearly that the heart of this album lies in providing hope and offering a call to listeners to move out of their own personal darkness. The searching lyrics sing out “The love that’s gone inside left a hole in your heart so wide, but hold tight: God will make you whole.” The elements of a redemptive Gospel found here are presented without apology or gimmick, woven into honest pictures of the often heartbreaking complexities of life.
The sound As We Ascend presents is developed and dynamic, boasting a unity between the three members that forges Farewell to Midnight as a tight, coherent unit. Although it could be tempting to listen to this album entirely in light of the past, As We Ascend is so much more than their We As Human roots, and they display promise that could easily carry them on a meteoric rise far beyond what their last band achieved.
With their dual guitarist and vocalist dynamic, tight songwriting and technical mastery, As We Ascend has created the perfect hard rock storm. Farewell to Midnight is a frontrunner for the best rock record of 2017, proving undeniably that for As We Ascend and their listeners, the best is yet to come.
Related Artists: Disciple, We As Human, RED