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Ancestral Shadows — Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore

Ancestral Shadows
Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore
by Gary Hernandez at 28 October 2019, 5:00 PM

ANCESTRAL SHADOWS is a Black Metal band hailing from Salem, New Hampshire (the other Salem). They’ve been around since 2010 and have three full-length and one live album to their credit. Their most recent album, “Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore,” was released August 23, 2019. As far as style of Black Metal, I’d say these guys do a fair job of exploring the full spectrum of regional and wave influences. I’ve seen them categorized as Atmospheric Black Metal on some forums, which seems to be code for creative and intelligent song writing.

There are a lot of gradations to “Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore.” I wouldn’t call it lo-fi, but it’s not on the high end of the scale either. More like a sweet spot where you can distinguish the instrumentation but the bass is still bit flattened and the highs are muted to gray. The compositions shift between traditional repetitive riffs and melodic tremolo to acoustic and synth renderings. Apparitional Wolf Shadow’s guitar work is impressive. He isn’t overly indulgent nor aggressive, but rather gives each movement long enough to set in. Adding depth to the album are two additional contributing guitarists: M.M. on tracks II, VII, VIII and Rognvaldr on track III. On the vocals, Wraithtongue is a bit traditional as well. His rasping screeches seem to emerge from a distance — like from the far end of a darkened cellar — rather than the forefront. Similar to the guitar work, additional vocalists are featured with Holly Winchell on track III and A.W.S. on tracks IV and VII adding some rich texture.

Thematically, the songs center on war, death, and other sundry morbidity. There’s also mention of dragons and swords and lycanthropy and general deeds of vile darkness. Essentially, it’s a deep well full of Black Metal tropes. Best tracks are “II. Stronghold of the Black Abyss,” “III. Black Autumn Silence,” “VI. Specters of the Lost Battlefield,” and “VII. Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore.” As noted earlier, a few tracks function as interludes. For some listeners, these tracks will add depth and atmosphere; for others, they’ll come across as unnecessary deviations. “I. Intro – Monumentum Praeteritus,” “IV. Forged in Flames of Old” and “VIII. SMRT (Death)” fall into this category, while “V. Rider of the Grew Dawn” is a short succession of lead solos played against the backdrop of an equestrian mounted battle. Personally, they worked for me and are essential parts of the album.

All together, “Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore” is an engaging piece of Black Metal which deserves a place in any Black Metal fan’s collection. It’s also refreshing to hear something come out of such an unexpected location as America’s New England.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. I. Introduction - Monumentum Praeteritus
2. II. Stronghold of the Black Abyss
3. III. Black Autumn Silence
4. IV. Forged in the Flames of Old
5. V. Riders of the Grey Dawn
6. VI. Spectres of the Lost Battlefield
7. VII. Wolven Mysteries of Ancient Lore
8. VIII. I Reflect… Pt II - Smrt (Death)
Apparitional Wolf Shadow – Guitars, keyboards, vocals (additional)
Mournful Misanthrope – Bass, guitars
Wraithtongue – Vocals
Vulcan – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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