Ascending in Triumph is the second album from Swedish gothic/doom/death metal band Nox Aurea. The Gothenburg-based band takes a fairly melodic, completely heavy approach to the doom/death genre and adds gothic elements like symphonic keyboards and clean female vocals. Now, this kind of sound isn't anything new, but when it's done well, it can be compelling. Unfortunately, for every Theatre of Tragedy or My Dying Bride there are at least a dozen disposable "beauty and the beast" knockoffs.
Nox Aurea, however, is in the first category. For a relatively new band, they sound like seasoned veterans, and the music on Ascending in Triumph has a lot of depth. The album is equal parts melodic death and crushingly heavy doom metal, with just the right amount of gothic elements. Most of the songs hover around the 8-minute mark, and can go from a slow, funereal pace to furious thrashing and back again. The three distinct vocal styles - harsh/death, harsher/blackened and of course Alice Persell's clean vocals - add depth and emotion to an album that already had plenty of both, thanks to dark, despondent lyrics worthy of My Dying Bride. The nearly 10-minute "Mother Aletheia Chapter II" is the album's crowning glory, and the song that gives you the best appreciation for Nox Aurea's sound. "The Delight of Autumn Passion" and the title track are also highlights of this very solid album. The only real downside of Ascending in Triumph is that as good as it is; it has all been done before. I'm reminded of some of the genre's best bands, which is good, but there isn't a lot to make this band stand out.
Even with the strong "more of the same" vibe you get from this album, there's no denying that Nox Aurea is really good at what they do. If you're a passionate fan of all things gothic metal, or appreciate doom/death bands like November's Doom, Evoken and My Dying Bride, Ascending in Triumph is well worth checking out.