Ascend is the sixth studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, released on May 4, 1999 through Shrapnel Records. According to Howe, this is his least favourite album due in part to creative differences which arose with keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij during the making of the latter's 1997 album High Definition. In the liner notes, Howe explains his decision to revisit the neoclassical style of his earlier work, however remarking that "by no means is this a reflection of where I'm headed with my music in the future." The fifth track, "La Villa Strangiato", is a cover of an instrumental by progressive rock band Rush, from their 1978 album Hemispheres.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine at AllMusic gave Ascend three stars out of five, calling it "essentially a high-octane hard-rock shred record, with few of the blues-rock influences that marked his initial releases, or the jazzy experiments he tried during the middle of the decade." He went on to describe the album as "one for the fans, and they'll likely find enough great moments within this album to be satisfied", but that "it's easy to understand why anyone who isn't in the shred circle would find this a little monotonous." Howe's playing was praised, albeit with a caveat: "Howe is a speed demon, essentially [...] There is a certainly a thrill in hearing him play, but the speed is getting the better of him".