After "Circle of the Sun" late 2010, "the Higher Key" is the 2nd album of this great band from New Zealand...
When STONER is as heavy, dark, psychedelic and refined as ARC OF ASCENT displays it, I could listen it all day long ! This 6 songs affair abounds of memorable riffs, powerful and catchy, envelopped in a dark and gracious mood... Extremely heavy, they remind at times SIGIRIYA, not as groovy and more in heady mid-tempos but as powerful and massive with similar textures in catchy heaviness and refined psychedelism.
While a song like "Land of Tides" includes some classic Sabbathian riffage in its first part, there's then a solid work on catchy guitars peaking with psychedelic solos, almost desert-rock like; this mood continues in the beginning of "Search for Liberation", until we come back in the overall tone of A.O.C. music : HEAVINESS with grace. The song "Elemental Kingdom" is my fave, the basical riff is the most powerful of the album, should be something enormous and extremeley loud on stage, there's a massive and heady atmosphere here that is very special and the backing vocals are perfectly hypnotizing !
"The Higher Key" has really no weak moments, it's a very thick and homogeneous effort with a great addition of crunchy ideas that place ARC OF ASCENT easily above the average, let's hope it'll allow them to cross Oceans !!! The album is available on CD and LP formats.