This is the band’s first album in 12 years, so I think it’s safe to say there’s no small level of expectation riding on this release in some quarters.
Well, they’re returning with no half measures – this album contains 67 minutes of music, spread across 12 original songs plus a Bathory cover.
This is melodic black metal with roots in the Norwegian style, (unsurprisingly). This isn’t brightly melodic in an upbeat way, as some melodic black metal can be; no, Ancient’s music is thoroughly steeped in darkness and the blackest arts.
The dark melodies and ferocious drumming work in partnership, feeding off each other as the music progresses. The blackened melodies add a lot to the music, making for engaging songs that really hit the spot.
These tracks work well whether they’re blasting out at top speed or slowing down for more of a groove. Either way, it’s very enjoyable. The band also make good use of lighter and acoustic passages to create atmosphere.
The recording is strong and clear, but with a suitably raw edge that fits the music well. The band sound good and have the confidence and experience to take advantage of this.
The singer has a scathingly sharp voice that slithers alongside the music like a predator. It works well with the lethal melodies of the music.
Back to the Land of the Dead may be a long album, but it’s a very good one. It can be a lot to take in one sitting, unless you’re really in the mood for it, but regardless of this the songs themselves are very enjoyable, and I urge you to check this out.