Review Summary: The soundtrack to the demise of a band that had such a promising future.
Back in the mid-nineties Ancient were on the cusp of attaining the status of such bands as Emperor
due to the rave being created by their two releases; 1994’s Svartalvheim
and 1996’s The Cainian Chronicles
. Before the release of this album it was thought that it would be the one to solidify their standing in the black metal world, but no one could have predicted the raging turd that was about to be unleashed from the collective bowels of this band. Svartalvheim and The Cainian Chronicles were aggressive, guitar dominated efforts that were just raw enough to satisfy most diehard black metal fans, but this album was nothing like that.
This album was full of gothic interludes, backing female vocals, cheesy keyboards, and generally everything that could ever be wrong with a black metal album. Of course they were immediately branded Cradle of Filth
clones by the masses, but I couldn’t disagree more. To me the term “clone” means to replicate perfectly the original subject and that’s just not what happened here. This album is more the musical equivalent of showing a six year old the Mona Lisa and then asking him to recreate it with crayons; not a clone, just a sloppy, misguided interpretation of all the original’s elements.
The first track (after a useless intro), “A Mad Blood Scenario”, contains a lot of what is wrong with this album. The problems begin immediately with the spoken-word parts that are so overblown due to him trying much too hard to make his voice sound deep and mysterious which, instead, makes it sound stupid and laughable. Speaking of “laughable”, much of this song is also spent by the vocalist giggling like some sort of black metal school girl. I’m guessing the desired effect would be to sound scary or insane, but again, the only real outcome is annoyance. Musically we find the band trying its best to recreate the atmosphere of CoF with minimal success. They have the prerequisite clean guitar parts, the heavy mid-sections, the gothic keyboard interludes, the female “oohs” and “ahhs”, and much like the six year old trying to interpret what made the original painting so great, Ancient fail miserably.
Things don’t get any better as the album progresses either. Every track holds an abundance of horrible spoken-word sections, horrendous school-girl giggling, generic female vocal parts and misguided attempts at gothic black metal. I wish I could say that everything I’ve mentioned is all that is wrong with this album, but on the fifth track they introduce a new element; horribly out of key clean singing. Thankfully, from this song on, the clean singing is used sparingly but it’s still used enough to drive another nail into the coffin that is already full of nails.
Another “nail” in this coffin comes on the eighth track when they try to incorporate 80’s rock into the mix with disastrous results. They take all the worst elements of the genre and cram them in with the crap they’ve already been churning out for the last seven songs. Out of everything they could have chose to take from the 80’s, they choose simple drum beats, generic groovy riffs, and plenty of cheesy vocal transitions including “Oh Yeah”, “Oomph”, and heavy breathing… seriously, I was waiting to hear someone belt out “I Wanna Rawk!” from the beginning of that old Twisted Sister
I could continue to go on and point out the flaws on each individual song, I could make jokes about the black metal picnic taking place on the cover (seriously, who drags a table into the middle of the forest), I could mention that the guitar player’s name is Jesus Christ! (including the exclamation mark) and relate how fitting that is to the overall vibe of this album, I could rip into the horribly thin production; basically I could talk much more but I think that everyone gets the picture. To put things into perspective for those still reading, this album was so bad that by the time the band released their final album (which was actually good) it only sold 134 copies in its first week, and those low sales were largely attributed to the stink still floating around from this album.