On Rise: Ascension, A Skylit Drive makes it evident that the ability to engage its audience isn’t dependent upon heavy instrumentation, screaming or instruments turned up loudly. This album, a reimagined follow-up to their fourth full-length Rise, features vocalist Michael Jagmin and guitarist Nick Miller not only playing acoustically, but also incorporating instrumentation that isn’t traditionally a part of the band’s sound. Its fans will surely be surprised, but quite pleasantly, at this. For the album, the band brought in producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Something Corporate, The Rocket Summer), who worked on the pre-production side of Rise.
The acoustic nature of the record allows Jagmin and Miller’s musicianship to shine through. Jagmin’s crystalline voice doesn’t have to fight over the heavy guitars the band usually uses. Instead, it rings forth, with an air of delicacy amidst clean guitar lines and the incorporation of a diverse choice of instruments. On “Just Stay,” his voice holds all its intensity without having to strain to be exposed. The ease in which “Just Stay” melts into “Pendulum” exposes the impressive control of dynamics that Jagmin exercises. He makes it sound easy.
The precision with which Miller approaches his guitar lines—made evident in the crispness during “Unbreakable” and “Said and Done,” springs forth like a matador triumphantly flashing about an arena after the final blow is delivered unto the bull. “Crash Down” begins with the pizzicato of strings, growing to include a loose drumbeat and full cascade of orchestral instruments from which Jagmin’s voice confidently rises.
Throughout Rise: Ascension, there are beautiful moments that echo sentiments created in Rise, but achieve a deeper impact in this format, encouraging the listener to repeat the album multiple times in order to catch each nuance. On this record, A Skylit Drive proves that nothing is lost by performing acoustically and soars higher, simply by unleashing their imaginations and exposing the brilliant musicianship they possess.