Illenium – “Ascend”

by Christopher Smith

Illenium is the stage name of 28 year old American producer and DJ Nicholas Miller. Illenium began recording and releasing music in 2014 with a number of ‘floating’ singles prior to the release of his debut album “Ashes” in 2016, which reached No.6 on the US dance chart. The follow up “Awake” in 2017 was more successful in reaching No.3 on that chart and No.106 on the Billboard 200 and included six US dance chart singles. Illenium has continued this success with “Take You Down” last year, the first new release from his latest album “Ascend”.

Four more Dance chart singles have been released prior to “Ascend” this week including “Good Things Fall Apart” (No.8) and the massive hit “Takeaway” featuring The Chainsmokers, which has made No.3 on the Dance chart, No.69 on the singles chart and, more importantly, has broke Illenium outside the US in becoming a sizable hit across Europe and Asia. All five singles are featured on “Ascend”, together with twelve other tracks which sees Illenium team up with more than a handful of singers including Britain’s Georgia Ku, American rapper Jon Bellion, Ireland’s Foy Vance, alt-pop group Bahari and US rock group X Ambassadors to name but a few to perform on each of the tracks.

The album begins with the sullen intro “I Care” before launching into “Hold On” with Georgia Ku which pulses and vibes and screams out for commercial release. “Good Things Fall Apart” was the fourth single to be released earlier this year and features rapper Jon Bellion, providing the soaring vocals to this anthemic number. “That’s Why” features US singer GOLDN and is pure, unadulterated EDM with a trippy, repetitive chorus. “Blood” was the sixth and most recent track released prior to the album being made available and features the vocals of Irish singer Foy Vance. His vocals struggle to dominate the overpowering and explosive chorus on this track.

“Take You Down” is a song about drug abuse and was released a years ago as the first new material from Illenium since the “Awake” album. It’s calmer that the previous tracks but irrefutably classy and haunting and certainly thought provoking. “All Together” features the vocals of American actor and singer Jeff D’Agostino aka Oekiin and continues the smoother, classier beat and pace set by its predecessor. “Crashing” was Illenium’s second taster of this album in January 2019 and features Ruby Carr and Natalia Panzarella, who formed the group Bahari in 2014. “Crashing” is a superb piece of chilled and rolled EDM-pop that is proving one of the most popular tracks on this album.

“Broken Ones” features former America’s Got Talent contestant Anna Clendening, its thumping beat pumps till the sudden and very end of it all. “Every Piece Of Me” features the vocals of Portland, Oregan duo Echoes and provides much atmosphere with a very definite hint of Enya about it. “Takeaway”, as already mentioned, has provided Illenium with a major global hit as well as a big US dance and chart smash. The track features US DJ and production team The Chainsmokers and singer Lennon Stella, one half of Canadian country music duo Lennon & Maisy. The track is beautifully angelic and wraps you entirely in its gorgeous rhythm and herein lies the key to the glorious success it is enjoying.

“Sad Songs” features production from EDM producer Said The Sky and features Annika Wells on vocals. The track is another magical journey into cotton candy EDM with a wicked beat layered over the top about half way through the track. “Pray” features chart topping singer Kameron Alexander as he stamps his unique and haunting vocals all over the song that builds and builds to an electrifying middle eight and final chorus. “In Your Arms” brings in US rockers X Ambassadors for something a little out of the ordinary for them but very much a trademark Illenium tune with a great feel good factor about it.

“Gorgeous” features British singer Bipolar Sunshine and producer Blanke, with strong, rock style vocals and a hard hitting, fast moving chorus that will get those lights flickering and pulses racing! “Angel” is a forty one second prelude to the closing track “Lonely” which features the voice of Chandler Leighton for another dark and atmospheric track which bursts at the seams to produce epic beats before winding down nicely to a peaceful close. With “Ascend”, Illenium has produced a superb album that will build on the success of “Takeaway” and find an audience outside his home land and, perhaps, be a major hit around the world…? Illenium is touring the album across the US this Autumn and Winter and if “Ascend” takes off as predicted, he could be coming to a stadium near you early next year!

For more about Illenium, check out his WEBSITE and his FACEBOOK page

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