Ancient

Picture of Ancient

Svartalvheim

Ancient - Svartalvheim ©1994 Listenable
1. Svartalvheim
2. Trumps Of An Archangel
3. Nuldradans
4. The Call Of The Absu Deep
5. Det Glemte Riket
6. Paa Evig Vandring
7. Ved Trolltjern
8. Eerily Howling Winds
9. Likferd

At one point, Ancient was a semi-respectable, moderately evil second-tier black metal band. They had all the necessary tools: evil sounding vocals, facepaint, fire breathing, speedy songs that somewhat lacked in guitar power, and oh-so-spooky eerie passages with keyboards and sound effects. In other words they were one of those kind of bands that appealed to those fanatics who just totally dig anything evil. But unfortunately, they tended to be very non-descript in their approach and did nothing to really set themselves apart. Why they were to be picked up by Metal Blade records over some more innovative or interesting bands is a mystery.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Trolltaar EP

Ancient - Trolltaar EP ©1995 Damnation
1. Trolltaar
2. Nattens Skønnhet
3. Fjellets Hemmelighet

Trolltaar, though brief, is possibly the only Ancient album I've heard that actually justified any of the attention the band has ever receieved. Plying nothing but the most standard atmospheric-tinged black metal wares, Ancient goes about their business and just takes care of the basic needs: writing songs that demand an occasional listen here and there. The guitars ride along higher end, trebly patterns, the drums are relatively fast and keyboards and clean vocal passages jump in every so often to break up the monotony. While not being revolutionary or attacking the genre limits in the most ferocious manner possible, Trolltaar comes across exactly how it should. The final track, "Fjellets hemmelighet", is the standard Black Metal EP "atmospheric" track, but it, as well, is done fairly well. Chances are Trolltaar's main source of quality is the fact that it so brief, as Ancient simply went in there and headed back out before overstaying their audio welcome.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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The Cainian Chronicles

Ancient - The Cainian Chronicles ©1996 Metal Blade
1. Ponderous Moonlight
2. Part I: The Curse
3. Part II: Lilith's Embrace
4. Part III & IV: Disciplines Of Caine/Zillah And The Crone
5. At The Infernal Portal (Caulo III)
6. Cry Of Marianne
7. Prophecy Of Gehenna
8. Song Of Kaiaphas
9. Exu
10. The Pagan Cycle
11. Homage To Pan

"I think Bathory already did this."

My first thoughts were pretty direct. That whole speed and high, grating vocals thing. Bathory did it ten years ago and chucked it for Viking nostalgia. So where does Ancient get off?

Okay, okay, I'm not being fair and honestly, I didn't exactly pay attention to this album the first time through. Once I actually sat down and listened to the whole thing, I was indeed impressed. Sure, the ride is like flying through railroad tunnels on meth and matches velocity with orbitting satellites. But before long you fall into a primevil trance and become absorbed by the music. Ancient tends to entrance one with occasional use of female singing (courtesy of Kimberly Goss) and more operatic, classical moments. And while Lord Kaiaphas does use different screams and growls, the Quorthon thing still nags at me.

Gosh. This is one of those records that you just can't finger. It's not so great that you will be purchasing Ancient T-shirts, Ancient baseball caps, and Ancient dental floss anytime soon, but it's not so bad that you will take this CD and fling it back at your local retailers either. I guess I could suggest it for black metal 101 and let the listener slowly descend into this genre, but that's about it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1997

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Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends

Ancient - Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends ©1997 Metal Blade
1. Malkavian Twilight
2. A Mad Blood Scenario
3. The Draining
4. Um Gonho Psychedelico
5. Sleeping Princess Of The Arges
6. Her Northern Majesty
7. Blackeyes
8. The Emerald Tablet
9. Milfothewisp
10. Neptune
11. 5
12. Hecate, My Love And Lust
13. Vampirize Natasha
14. Black Funeral

"I think Cradle of Filth already did this..."

My first thoughts were pretty direct. The whole pseudo goth cover images, screaming vocals alternating with low octave spoken parts, and really tedious songs based on keyboards. Cradle of Filth is already doing this. Where does Ancient get off mimicking this band?

Basically my first impression of this album was CoF without a good sound production and less interesting songs (not that I was very impressed with CoF's Cruelty and the Beast either). Yes, you can certainly hear that Ancient sound in the guitar stylings of Kaiaphas and Jesus Christ (probably not the second coming of that messiah guy from way back) so you can't say this is entirely a rip-off. However, you can say that with the abundance of more interesting bands circulating about, there is really no reason to put this record on.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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The Halls Of Eternity

Ancient - The Halls Of Eternity ©1999 Metal Blade
1. Cast Into The Unfathomed Deeps
2. Born In Flames
3. The Battle Of The Ancient Warriors
4. A Woeful Summoning
5. Cosmic Exile
6. Spiritual Supremacy
7. The Heritage
8. I, Madman
9. From Behind Comes The Sword
10. The Halls Of Eternity
11. Arrival

Contrary to what some may tell you, Ancient are not Cradle of Filth doppelgangers, and this misleading stigma should not cloud your judgement towards them. If they bore some likeness to their English counterparts, they most certainly do not resemble them now.

That being said, The Halls of Eternity is an excellent album, one worth checking out if you have any spare Christmas money. The album opens with a short keyboard intro that leads swimmingly into the second track, "Born in Flames." Here we are presented with a distinctive drone-like black metal melody with keyboard harmonies, which is essentially the basis for the remainder of the CD. A female spoken line, recited by Deadly Kristin, appears as well.

"The Battle of the Ancient Warriors" features keyboard-generated horns, as well as a drifting lead guitar passage, while "A Woeful Summoning" begins with an ambient section that precedes the black metal music. Deadly Kristin sings here, and the music sometimes soars to an epic height. With a few exceptions, the rest of The Halls of Eternity sounds like what is described above. Of note is "I, Madman," which stands apart from the other tracks because a guest musician, Jesus Christ! wrote it (yes his appellation includes the exclamation mark). The music ends with a keyboard outro.

Aphazel "sings" no differently than other black metal artists; that is to say, he screeches. However, there's a certain atmospheric quality to his banshee screams that make them more interesting than that of most black metal vocalists. Kristin's voice is similarly atmospheric, and the exchange between male and female vocals complements the versatile music well, though its effect is lessened a bit by the fact that every third band is employing this technique nowadays. To their credit, they've been using female vocalists for some time now, and ought not to be seen as trend hoppers.

The lyrics are what one would expect: gothic, sanctimonious, satanic themes. Penned by both Aphazel and Deadly Kristin, they are solidly written, and all in all, I can not locate any glaring faults in The Halls of Eternity. At no time does Ancient stray from the beaten path, and yet they have managed to create a sound uniquely their own. Could be the sleeper hit of 1999/2000.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 01/2000

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