I was never a fan of Hundred Year Sun, but when Marc Tompkins and bandmate bassist Walter Busbee joined with guitarist Rick Beato and drummer Darren Dodd to form Billionaire, I wanted to like them. “Touching Down” from the CD was getting lots of airplay on 99X. A very tender pop ballad, “Touching Down” brought attention to the band as they toured to promote the CD. 99X followed up with “I Fell From Space,” another soft-edge pop rock song. But Ascension‘s eleven more songs are musically unrelated to either of the radio tracks. They are trashy heavy metal wanna-bes, complete with high-octave screams, unimaginative guitar licks a la Twisted Sister, gongs (for some reason) and the worst lyrics that barely find words that rhyme with “door.” From headbanging instrumental breaks to clichéd metal song endings, the CD has a very unoriginal sound. With titles like “Til You’re High,” “Someday I’ll Leave It All,” and “Never Going Back,” it’s easy to see Marc Tompkins has run out of creativity since leaving Augusta, Geogria. To make it more unusual, “Never Going Back” actually sounds like a Jim Croce reject. Well, 99X is pushing them, and all the little middle-school kids adore them, so… rock on, dudes.

Republic Records, 145 W. 45th St., Suite 911, New York, NY 10036

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