Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse: The Settlers Saga Pt. 1

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Reviewed: April 2022
Releases: 2022, Crusader Records
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Dessi Petrova

Ancient Settlers is a young project with members hailing from Venezuela and Finland. While the sextet has only been around for a couple of years, it has been anything but idle, touring and releasing four singles and the EP Autumnus in 2021. Even more impressive is that they achieved all of this during a worldwide pandemic, with members residing in four different countries – France, Portugal, Spain, and the United Stares. They return in 2022 with their first full-length Our Last Eclipse: The Settlers Saga Pt. 1, as well as many exciting plans for the near future.

From the onset of the first track, Into The Depths I Ride, it is quite clear that the release has a very specific aim: to explore the realm of modern melodic death metal, and expand on it by clever usage of synths and masterful instrumentation. The latter, although intrinsic to melodic death metal, is definitely incontestable in The Settlers Saga Pt. 1. And, so is the former. The synths definitely stand out – crisp, clear, and cleverly fitted into the orchestral whole. They are oddly reminiscent of Mesarthim’s usage of electronics, though much less omnipresent, not aiming to eclipse the overall sound. They flow beautifully throughout the length of the release, and are a particularly captivating addition to the epic atmosphere created in Jotnar Magick and Silent December, the fifth and seventh tracks of the Saga – coincidentally, my personal favourites.

It is impossible not to mention that Antony Hämäläinen, of Armageddon, Meridian Dawn, and Nightrage fame, is the vocalist at Ancient Settlers. His punchy, almost thrash metal-esque vocals have been given the centre stage in The Settlers Saga Pt. 1, in a manner similar to that in Autumnus. In fact, this release is very much a logical continuation of the 2021 EP. The same ideas have been imbued in it in the same way, executed in the same way, mastered and presented in the same way.

And, this is where I found myself struggling to listen through the whole album. While it is indisputably well-made, its main downside is that it feels quite lengthy at approximately 53 minutes, in a manner unlike other releases of a similar length. There is just so little variation between the ten pieces composing the album, that the end result ends up sounding prolonged, and, for a lack of a better word, hollow. It seems as if, in essence, no progress has been made since the first EP, which is not typically the expectation for new bands. This is probably because Ancient Settlers is comprised of musicians who are very technically-proficient, who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, and who are devoted melodic death metal fans in their own right. And, while this statement might seem contradictory to the one preceding it, it is not. Because, the reality is that Ancient Settlers seem to want to innovate within the genre in theory, but, in practice are too tied down to a very specific sound.

I admit, it took me a few listens to begin appreciating this album. I also admit, if I am ever asked for melodic death recommendations, it will not be my first, second, or third choice. But, fans of the band will most definitely not be disappointed, and those whose genre of choice matches that of Ancient Settlers, will certainly find the result promising and exciting. I also have the sneaking suspicion that this is one of those albums which have to be beheld in a live setting to be fully appreciated, and I am anticipating doing exactly that when the time comes. Personally, I am looking forward to the second part of The Settlers Saga, with the hope that the Settlers will diversify their output and reach the dimensions Pt. 1 did not. I put my money on the synths, of which I would, admittedly, like to hear more.


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Tracklisting:

1. Into The Depths I Ride
2. Cast In Gold
3. Our Last Eclipse
4. Cerements
5. Jotnar Magick
6. Library Of Tears
7. Silent December
8. Memories
9. The Black Rainbow
10. Peregrination

Band Line-up:

Antony Hämäläinen – vocals
Carlos Chiesa-Estomba – lead guitar
Emmy Reyes – rhythm guitar
Miguel Herrera – bass
Herman Riera – drums
Rene González – keyboards

Band Websites:

Bandcamp
Facebook
Spotify