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Atlanta's Billionaire makes another classic case for an over-hyped industry band gone wrong. After releasing Goodnight Sky on its own independent imprint, Red Lightin, the band quickly ignited a fierce label bidding war in its backyard. Emerging as the victors, Slash wisely chose to put the boys back in the studio with Cult/Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey. Together, the pairing re-recorded six tracks from the band's indie debut, including the psychedelic/progressive "The Jimmie Hale Mission," the Brit-pop-tainted "Sunny Sunday Afternoon," and "I Fell From Space." Kimsey does an excellent job of bolstering the band's heavy guitar attack which makes tracks like "I Fell From Space" sound like Billy Corgan jamming with the Cult circa the Love era. The larger problem at hand is the band's clear lack of identity. They have no clue who they are to who they want to be. Some of Ascension sounds oddly familiar, yet, at the same time, completely contrived in its delivery. The band's attack and focus is certainly decent, and even though their choices of sounds are on-point as well, the end results are not. Tracks like "Touching Down" and the Led Zeppelin-gone-acoustic "Never Going Back" are worthy efforts, but both fall short of something. Unsurprisingly, the label had no clue what to do with this lot, resulting in a series of disastrous decisions including throwing the quartet to the lions as Megadeth's support band! To make matters worse, the label would undergo corporate upheaval resulting in a quick death for Ascension. Close but no cigar.

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