Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ancient Ascendant - Echoes and Cinder

The British death metal band Ancient Ascendant released their second full-length album, Echoes and Cinder, back in March. I never heard their debut, so this was my first experience with their music.

First off, I think it's important to note that the band has managed to strike a good balance between modern and old-school sounds. It's clear that the group is drawing on older death metal influences, but it doesn't feel like I'm listening to a record from 1992. In my mind, this is how it should be.

Most of the tracks on this album have a definite groovy, melodic bent, but it's not really melodeath. Instead, I would unhelpfully say that "it is death metal that is melodic, but it is not melodic death metal." The riffs actually remind me more than anything of the earliest Hypocrisy albums, only with more of an emphasis on groove and with a dramatically different guitar tone. It's these riffs that, unsurprisingly, really carry the songs. They're not the most complex in the world, but many of them are very catchy and they tend to pull the songs into a really solid mid-tempo groove that's eminently listenable.

As you can probably guess from that last statement, this isn't terribly violent or chaotic, and as death metal goes it's not on the heavy end of the spectrum. What it lacks in heaviness and visceral intensity, though, it makes up for in its ability to engage the listener. The highly straight-forward drumming and bass likely won't appeal to fans looking for blistering speed and technicality, but they anchor the songs and provide a strong backbone for the style these guys have adopted. The vocals are hoarse, energetic growls in the upper mid-range, and they work perfectly with the simple but catchy riffs and surprisingly well-structured solos to propel the songs forward. Add to that the excellent production, and this record has more than enough going on to keep me interested.

It's not groundbreaking, experimental, technical, or especially heavy. That said, this was a genuinely fun album to listen to. If enjoyment is the ultimate goal of music, then Ancient Ascendant have done their job better than most. It may seem weird to say, but I'm tempted to call this the AC/DC of death metal.

Grade: B+

No comments:

Post a Comment