Illenium’s new album, “Ascend,” is causing a buzz in the Electronic Dance Music genre. There are 17 songs total with 15 of them featuring other artists, and the album is exactly an hour long.
Some of the popular artists he worked with for this album are the Chainsmokers, Jon Bellion, X Ambassadors and Said the Sky. Illenium’s last album, “Awake,” was released in 2017. But in 2018 his label released a compilation of other DJs who remixed songs from “Awake.”
He starts “Ascend” with an intro “I Care” of two people speaking to each other. It only lasts a few seconds before it rolls into the first song “Hold On”.
“Hold On” is a version of a love song with Georgia Ku as his featured female singer. It has a happy vibe even though the lyrics are about missing someone. It also includes a drop with a lot of depth. The lyrics capture the frustration about wanting to move on, but holding on despite that.
“Good Things Fall Apart” features the popular artist Jon Bellion. This song was released before the album. Some radio stations played the song before they were supposed to, but even with the early release, the album is having an impact in the industry.
Instruments were incorporated into this album along with traditional synths. “Sad Songs” is a really soft song that includes sound from guitars and other instruments. Illenium still incorporated his traditional EDM drops in a gentle fashion.
His song “Blood” has an interesting twist with the vocals. Featuring Foy Vance, his voice adds a country edge to the very aggressive EDM song. This song plays around with different genres by adding in the country, rock vocals, with dance music and intense, aggressive drops.
Another song that crosses into a different genre is “Pray.” This songs brings a soulful vibe from the addition of Kameron Alexander’s voice in the beginning. However, turns into an eerie melody after the first expansive drop. The song continues to tilt back and forth from Alexander to edgy, futuristic synths.
Illenium snuck a couple dark drops into the song “Gorgeous.” It has a beautiful melody with pretty vocals, but he leads up to a super edgy drop. Once the songs finishes with a full-bodied song, the melody mixed with the dance trance, it flows into “Angel.”
“Angel” is the album’s prelude before the last song. It’s a clip from the classic movie “Good Will Hunting” when Robin Williams is speaking to a young Matt Damon about life and love. Illenium uses William’s voice for the 40 second prelude.
The prelude leads right into the last song “Lonely”. It wraps up the album perfectly.
Overall, Illenium included a good mix of aggressive, intense songs with slow, ethereal songs. He has a mix of mainstream EDM songs with cutting edge songs.
Most of the songs are sad and emotional with titles such as “Broken Ones,” “Hold On” and “Crashing.” Some of the ethereal songs include “Every Piece of Me” and “Take You Down.”
If you like Illenium, this is just another masterpiece he is adding to his collection. If you are new to EDM, this is a great place to start because it has the classic EDM sound mixed with songs that lead into its more experimental side. However, he threw a couple grimy songs into the album to include some aggressive EDM.
The way the lyrics and music work together can stir deep emotions and connections. This is the kind of album to just sit and listen to the whole way through. It makes you feel sadness, hope, love, sacrifice, desperation and more.
The album as a whole is really emotional and deep,.
Illenium deserves the hype he is getting because the album is incredible.
Ceighlee Fennel is a senior studying journalism.