Upon first listen, many may write off Ancient as a half-baked Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir knock-off, but there is much more to this band on repeated listens of its latest CD, NIGHT VISIT. It has been ten years since Ancient released their first album, SVARTALVHEIM, and, my, how they have grown! In later works, the incorporation of symphonic passages, female vocals (Sinergy vocalist, Kimberly Goss, appeared on 1996’s THE CAINIAN CHRONICLE) and general all-around grimness forced the comparisons mentioned earlier and they certainly cannot be refuted. NIGHT VISIT builds on these archetypes adding an incredible atmosphere to the music and, with the help of the geniuses at Studio Fredman, create another sonically exciting chapter of Ancient black metal.
“Envision The Beast” opens with a crushing drum intro courtesy of Grom. His skinsmanship (is that a word?!?) is really a highlight of this entire CD. His solid backbeat and battering ram double bass thunder through your speakers from start to finish. The slower, symphonic passage on the opening cut adds a cool aura to the song, too. Former vocalist Lord Kaiaphas makes a guest appearance on “Rape The Children of Abel.” Kaiaphas’ snarl and Aphazel’s screams meld into an Abbath-like rasp that suits the song perfectly. Besides the dueling vocalists, a haunting guitar intro echoes through the first thirty seconds of the track. The title track is more harmonic black metal, but still keeps its sinister edginess thanks to the lyrics. “The Truth Unveiled” contains a lengthy symphonic passage that closes out the CD in fine form. There are two instrumental bonus tracks tacked on to the end of the CD that follow this same format of atmospheric mood setting.
Call Ancient what you will, but NIGHT VISIT is a killer CD wrought with typical black metal bleakness, a touch of Goth and some blazing instrumentation. Ten years in and Ancient show no sign of slowing down, but rather evolving with the times and modernizing a genre that, more often than not, falls victim to its own constraints.
**The CD also contains a video of the title track.
KILLER KUTS: “Envision The Beast,” “Rape The Children of Abel,” “Night Visit”
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