Anciients – Heart of Oak (Review)

anciientsEver wondered what it would sound like if Mastodon and Enslaved got together and released an album? Well wonder no longer, as it would probably sound like Heart of Oak. Imagine a 50/50 collaboration between both of those bands – the melodies, both vocally and musically displayed here are reminiscent of both groups and are hugely enjoyable.

This is not to say that Anciients are a rip-of band of course – far from it – the Mastodon/Enslaved comparison simply serves as a useful starting point when describing Anciients and they certainly have their own individuality and flair – more so than most bands. Amazingly this is only a debut album – a release of this calibre is usually not heard of on a first full-length and is as refreshing as it is enjoyable.

The songs on display here are arguably simpler/less complex than a lot of Mastodon/Enslaved songs, (to use these bands as a reference point again), but this is not to their detriment, as this album is all about the melodies and the song structures. This is probably one of the catchiest metal albums you’ll hear all year, and yet it still manages to retain its edge that will allow it to age well and not become tired as some melody-driven albums can become after time.

An album that is as long as it is good. Worth it.

Nephren-Ka – The Fall of Omnius (Review)

Nephren-KaThere seems to be an upswell of talent in the extreme metal world in France of late. Nephren-Ka are one such band.

Easily boasting enough talent, ideas and skill to propel them to the upper echelons of the Death Metal world; given the chance this band could, (and should), go far.

Although this is, in essence, brutal Death Metal; there is so much more going on here. Elements of most styles of extreme metal are included in the mix at some point or another, (all within a Death Metal framework), with plenty of small touches, flourishes and individuality to make this release stand out head and shoulders above the pack.

The band know how to blast, but crucially also when not to. “Mastering the Voice” for example contains some lovely slow, crawling bits that rival the best similar parts that Cryptopsy have ever done. Some nice solos are scattered around, as well as enough atmosphere to give the album enough variety and interest but never allows it to go off-track and become something it shouldn’t.

The songwriting is top-notch, with plenty of dynamics and riffs to hold the attention and differentiate the individual songs from each other. The vocals also show a pleasing amount of variety, spanning the spectrum from deep to high, as necessary for the requirements of the song.

This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best Death Metal albums I have listened to in a while, and I unreservedly recommend it for any and all fans of extreme metal. Top stuff.