Next review: » Ancient Rites - Dim Carcosa
Released: 2001, HammerHeart Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
If your CD collection needs still another epic, sweeping concept album dealing with medieval subject matter – battles, kings, warriors, Valhalla, etc. – you might want to consider Ancient Rites’s newest offering, DIM CARCOSA. However, if you’re expecting another power metal smorgasbord a la Helloween, HammerFall or Edguy, you’ll be disappointed. While definitely dabbling in some power metal elements, Ancient Rites has enough of a black metal quality to probably get themselves out of the power metal genre.
DIM CARCOSA is a pretty good album – not terrific, not groundbreaking, but pretty good. Its riffs are fast and powerful, and it’s powerfully melodic at times. The black metal style vocals of Gunther Theys leave a little to be desired, but seldom detract from what is a pretty catchy collection of hard-hitting metal tunes. “Victory or Valhalla (Last Man Standing)” is a very epic-sounding tune that leaves this power metal lover quite satisfied. “North Sea” is another standout, treating us to a vaguely NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE EARTH sound at its opening and later exploring more traditional black metal territory. Other tracks are surprisingly consistent and the album has no real low points. All the songs on this album relate somehow to medieval European history, frequently delving into war, conquest, Viking mythos, and religion. It all seems to be tied together by long textual passages in the CD insert booklet, penned by Mr. Theys, which wander from subject to subject, covering centuries of history (including the 21st) and a lot of thoughts that, frankly, I didn’t read fully. For one, the text is about 2 point font, and overlaid over sepia-toned artwork that make it difficult to read. This may be a low blow, criticizing the CD booklet, but it appears one cannot understand the meaning of the title DIM CARCOSA – which apparently has something to do with the Satanic Bible and H.P. Lovecraft – without it. I will, however, add Ancient Rites’ text to my list of books to read, after I collect my degree in Egyptology as reward for finishing the treatise in Nile’s BLACK SEEDS OF VENGEANCE booklet.
The musicianship here is very good and very creative. Some great intros and unusual instrument work (check out the beginning of “Gotterdammerung”) show that a lot of thought went into this. Ancient Rites are excellent songwriters as well as musicians. While DIM CARCOSA may have been just a tad bit ambitious on a conceptual level, that should not prevent you from thoroughly enjoying this album. Recommended.
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Next review: » Ancient Rites - Laguz
Released: 2001, Hammerheart Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Every so often, an album arises that is of the rare, highest caliber. It is an album that amazes and enthralls the listener upon first spin of the disc, and refuses to let go its grip, even improving in quality upon subsequent listens. Operation: Mindcrime is one such disc, Painkiller is another. Most recently, this honour has been claimed by Virgin Steele-House Of Atreus Act I. These albums have immediately stood out as some of metal’s finest moments, and now, barely over a year since its release, I can say, without a doubt, that Ancient Rites – DIM CARCOSA is one such album.
“The Return” opens the album, a piano and orchestral instrumental piece with some female vocals towards the end, and clocks in at just over three minutes in length. About this time during my first listen to this album, being unfamiliar with Ancient Rites, I started wondering what kind of album, metal or not, lay in store until “Exile” rips into force as a battery of fast, tight riffs and solid drumwork lay the foundation for this album. Gunther’s vocals cut into the mix, a sort of croaking/singing, and I start to think that this is a pretty damn good black metal album. Then, the keyboards start to creep in, adding an epic, melodic dimension to the thrashy metal, and the vocals change to a powerful, cleaner sound. Impressive, most impressive. “Victory Or Valhalla (Last Man Standing)” continues much like “Exile,” only growing even more epic. By this point in the album, I am most thoroughly enthralled by DIM CARCOSA.
The musicianship of Ancient Rites is quite good, and the songwriting skills of founding member/bassist Gunther Theys create some great epic metal driven by guitarwork that is simultaneously powerful, heavy, and melodic. As with any black metal band, the concepts and lyrics of this album cover all topics Pagan, ranging from conquest in battle, the glories of Viking Europe, as well as Pagan ideals regarding the concept of organized religion. My only complaint about the album, though, comes at this point. DIM CARCOSA is a concept album about Pagan Europe, and between each song are passages explaining the story behind the album. Unfortunately, to read the story, one must angle the page just so under a bright light in order to read the printing, black lettering on a dark background that is very difficult to read.
DIM CARCOSA is such an excellent album overall that every song (minus the three instrumental intro, interlude, and outro pieces) could be considered standout tracks. The tracks on this album that stand out to me are “And The Horns Called For War,” “On Golden Fields (De Leeuwen Dansen), and “Lindesfarne (Anno 993),” detailing the Viking attack that year on the Lindesfarne monastery in Ireland.
During the height of August 2001, shortly after acquiring this album, I had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend and fellow Metal-Rules staff reviewer, Mr. Michael De Los Muertos on his layover in Detroit, while on his sojourn to Wacken. Discussing metal over lunch, I introduced Los to the brilliance of DIM CARCOSA. Following my advice, Mr. Muertos picked up the album, and his review appeared in the November 2001 album reviews.
Since my first listen to DIM CARCOSA almost 1 year prior to my writing of this review, the album has literally not left my stereo. In this time, it has come to rank among my favourite albums of all-time, and has firmly earned its place as one of my most highly recommended albums. You must check this album out!
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