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Burton C. Bell manages to retain the familiar industrial metal bells and whistles of his glory days while stripping down to singer-songwriter status with electronic manipulation ablaze on his new project Ascension of the Watchers. NUMINOSUM is the title of this 11-track affair which emanates an ethereal quality right from the start thanks in excess to excellent programming and constructed ambiance via Fear Factory collaborator John Bechdel, whose borderline pop-rock deep mechanical grooves heard on cuts like "Like Falling Snow" help steer the music's entrancing elements away from the gates of slumber and into calm ponds of reflection. While there's nary a hint of the aggression normally attributed to these players' styles heard here, thanks to rich compositions and daring genre-jumping, the levels of intensity are almost on par with the most crushing of Bell's prior offerings. The man behind the machine unremittingly bares his soul with clinical care and stark resolution here, notably on tracks such as the shockingly melodic "Moonshine" and the tender "Violent Morning". Truly branching out into uncharted territory without any trepidation, open-minded fans of Bell's career should only apply here, as the jarringly different output of Ascension of the Watchers may prove to be a bit too far-reaching for the ardent metalhead to accept, yet those who do choose to embrace it will bask in its haunting contrast.
- Mike SOS