This Ascension

Tears in Rain

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When this Santa Barbara-based goth quintet hit the scene in 1989, the Mission was on its last legs, Robert Smith and the Cure were heading into pop music's mainstream -- or at least making their first attempt -- and the Sisters of Mercy had been ashes for nearly five years. Needless to say, This Ascension took the American gothic underground by storm with their trademark blend of stinging guitar pyrotechnics courtesy of Kevin Serra and ethereal keyboard washes wrapping around vocalist Dru's multi-octave, multi-syllabic swirl. This reissue of the band's first-ever outing is a welcome one; it returns one of the rightful entries in the underground darkwave catalog to its rightful and prominent place on the shelf next to mid-period Siouxise and the Banshees, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy, X-Mail Deutschland, the Mission, Dead Can Dance, and so on. Since it went out of print, the disc had become a cipher, a myth, a disappearing scrawl in the sand for fans of the genre, and traded hands in many multi-generation cassettes. The CD master is pristine in its sonic quality, having been completely remastered and lovingly packaged. Serra proved to be the gluer in the mix with his hard rock leanings restrained by the various nuances and textures of goth rock riffing. He's forever in the pocket of the riff, but just barely, pushing his singer out onto the ledge of what her voice can handle. This Ascension pushes the genre envelope to the border of the hard rock wall and cascades over it in songs like "Groove," "Just Assassin," and "Megan." The entwined pairing of Dru and Serra's six-string majesty makes for an absolutely intoxicating blend of seductive, lush, and barely controlled emotion, dark as it is. As evidenced by Tears in Rain, This Ascension are a welcome if under-mentioned addition to the darkwave hall of fame.

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