The reawakening

They like to watch serial drama 24, but they also like to play death metal. has a drink with Dave Moulding (far right) and Nariman Poushin (far left) from Ancient Ascendant

Getting the right message across via email is tricky. And when you’re a sarcastic, self-deprecating band trying to write music that way, it can be a real challenge. “Our song-creation process is a ballache,” says Ancient Ascendant drummer and founder member Dave Moulding, “because we write songs, send them out [by email], everyone immediately says they’re shit and then we have to work from there.” Guitarist Nariman Poushin agrees. “It takes quite thick skin to get a riff through to the album,” he says recalling a particular one Moulding said he ‘hated with every fibre of his being’. “I don’t remember agreeing to it either!” retorts Moulding.

The death metal foursome admit they are “incredibly critical” of their own work. And this is most evident when reflecting on 2011 debut album The Grim Awakening. “Musically, it was exactly where we were at the time,” says Moulding, with a laugh and a slight grimace, “but it was an incredible learning curve that we’d not gone through before.” Such thinking inspired a quick return to the studio this year to work on a follow-up that would represent the band’s progression. The result, a more focused body of work, was Into the Dark, an EP they could release in time for their Bloodstock appearance.

Constructive criticism is one thing, but the band have been accused of not being 'death metal' enough – they were once turned down for a metal gig because of their alleged 'prog rock' sound. “I think death metal as a term doesn’t have much lineage,” says Moulding. “As soon as you say death metal, people have an opinion about what that is and it could be a whole bunch of stuff.” While Poushin considers Ancient Ascendant “a hot rock and death band”, Moulding says the important thing is to steer clear of being labelled brutal. “We don't want to be the fastest or the heaviest,” he says. “We want to be interesting and to have really well-written songs that will last a long time.”

Down to business
Inking their record deal was a big wake-up call for Ancient Ascendant, who suddenly realised they had to cut the mustard: cue more self-inflicted pressure. “We’d spent potentially all our playing career trying to get to that point and we got to that point and it was amazing,” says Moulding. “It lasted a few months just the awe of it and we realised that was just the first stepping stone out of 10,000.” Reality bit hard. Poushin adds: “We realised we don’t get Ferraris, we don’t get helicopter rides. Now you get to have a career, and it’s like: ‘Oh man, this is hard work.’”

So the London/Hatfield-based band – completed by Alex Butler on vocals/guitar and bassist Alan Webb – knuckled down, spurred on by producer Dan Swano (Opeth, Dark Funeral, Katatonia), who was a great motivator. “All of his amazing black metal and death metal aside, his work ethic and his professionalism is something I wish I could shotgun into people at will,” says a mesmerised Poushin. “In any sector, in any line of work, if you are as good as him and are as easy to deal with as him then you will be infinitely successful. I’m emphatic about it – and then he did an awesome job as well.”

Swano also had some kind things to say about Ancient Ascendant from their “excellent musicianship” to their “amazing vocals”. The band were already aghast at him agreeing to work with them and Poushin is the first to admit he didn’t have to be so complimentary. “It was an incredible honour as we grew up listening to all his recordings – and still do,” he says. “We just hope people don't think we had him at gunpoint or anything!”

Into The Dark is out now on Forepoint Records (via Plastic Head)
Ancient Ascendant play Bloodstock on 12 August and the Underworld, Camden on 18 November

More info here
Check out the band recording Into the Dark here