Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ancient - Svartalvheim [1994]

Despite the fact that Norway is one of (if not the) most prolific countries, in terms of black metal output, I have never been very fond of a vast majority of the bands. Aside from the giants of the scene (Immortal, Mayhem, and Darkthrone), I've never been able to listen to the "grvm" stuff from that country because it bored the shit out of me. But, you've got to dig around and find some stuff, because there is some quality in that cesspool of a scene. One such album that has been a nice find is Ancient's debut full-length "Svartalvheim." While the band would later go on to turn into another shitty band, this record has some substance to it that's worth a listen. 

What really impressed me with the sound of Ancient was their ability to conjure up riffs and melodies that were entirely reminiscent of phenomenal bands such as Bathory and Dissection. After the intro is the track "Trumps of an Archangel" which is an awesome song. Plenty of Bathory worship in the riffs, with the occasional melodic moments, some nasty vocals, and plenty of vile. Seriously, this track is some great, disgusting old-school black metal and had the entire album consisted of material like this track, it would have been amazing. "Huldradans" is a cool track that's definitely more in vein of Dissection (Acoustics and all!), as there's plenty of melody in the riff throughout. "The Call of the Absu Deep" is a much more doomy track that should get anyone's headbanging. Unfortunately, the music aside from these tracks is plagued with mediocrity and terrible songwriting. 

"Det Glemte Riket" would have been a promising song, but too many random inclusions of acoustic sections kind of killed the song a bit. It would be one thing if the acoustic sections added some kind of dark sound or killer solo, but they were just randomly placed acoustic parts that didn't fit the song at all. This happens in "Paa Evig Vandring" as well, and "Ved Trolltjern" is an acoustic song throughout with some echoed vocals, nothing more. At the end of "Svartalvheim," though, the good outweighs the bad and keeps Ancient's debut from being another awful album in the Norway scene and I would definitely recommend it to fans of Bathory, Dissection, Immortal, etc. 

"Trumps of an Archangel"
"The Call of the Absu Deep"

Final Rating
Awesome [8/10]