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Ancient Thrones – The Veil

Ancient Thrones
The Veil
by Brian Lowrie at 16 November 2020, 4:06 PM

While many bands rely on a myriad of sub-genres to find their distinct sound, few bands are able to find success in switching off between a few key sounds that are so far inclined towards one sub-genre. Ancient Thrones are a four-piece band from Nova Scotia, that have been able to find such success, often leaning towards the extreme of either black metal or melodic death metal. For their first release entitled “The Veil”Ancient Thrones have conjured a sound that starts off in the same vein as bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, but eventually finds itself in the realm of atmospheric melancholy a la Agalloch.

“Transient”, the album’s opener, starts in a foreboding manner, and with a run time of just under two minutes, doesn’t stick around to wait before picking things up a bit. “The Sight of Oblivion”  immediately sets its sights to be a headbanger; despite it’s title, it’s a rather confident sounding affair full of tasty grooves and solos that doesn’t stop to be bleak at any moment. “The Millionth Grave” follows suit in the same pacing, but aims to tread the path the previous track did not. It’s a notably darker sounding song, borrowing a sizable influence from technical death metal. This track likes to repeat itself more than the previous song, however, and follows a more strict “verse-chorus” style of composition that only slightly impairs it. “The Soul To Flesh” was a bit of a brow-raiser; it seems clear that Ancient Thrones have a faster style of blackened death metal, but the first thing this song brought to mind as it opened was Exhumed. With Sean Hickey’s busiest performance yet, taking on drums and vocals for this album, the constant blast beats and switching between high and low register vocals isn’t something I can scoff at. The song is also the only one on the album to feature a guest musician; Ashley Cates provides a solo piano track that is heard at the end of the song, which provides a strange reprieve from the blistering riffs that were heard before it.

At this point of the record, we hear a pretty polarizing shift in focus with “Viduus (The Veil)”, choosing a colder embrace with a Dissection style opening. One of only three songs to clock in over 9 minutes, this song felt more rewarding to me as a listener, for not only being in a style I particularly enjoy more, but for being such a dreary and moody change of heart. That’s not to say that the fixings of death metal are missing though; the mile- a-minute guitar solos and altering vocals are still here, and are even followed up with a surprisingly progressive clean section two-thirds of the way through. Providing us with another left turn is “Sentient”, a brief and somewhat uncalled-for intermission that only serves as a segue into the next track and doesn’t offer much in the way of being more than a display of the bands versatility and capabilities. “The River of Rain” is one of the more confusing songs, in which there is no given direction, and feels as though the main idea was to take all of the concepts built up thus far, mash them together and see what comes out. Even though I like some of these riffs and melodies a lot more than some of the others on the album, they often don’t flow into each other, and I found myself struggling to become acquainted with a riff under the notion of it not lasting long anyways. “Divided/Dissolve” attempts to bring the pace from the beginning tracks of the album, and supply it with a bit of bravado and heaviness that certainly benefits the composition as a whole. Overall, this song fixes what I didn’t gel with from “The River Of Rain”, and seems to focus on the composition as a whole rather than just the parts. The sense of cohesion helps the varied influences come together with more purpose, and as such helps to make this my favorite song from the album. Around the 3 minute mark is a tongue-in-cheek two-step beat that doesn’t overstay its welcome, yet offers a fun change-up that gives the sense of enjoyment that the band is actually enjoying writing the music they are presenting. However, this isn’t the only change-up in the track, as the band almost treads into doom-metal territory for the last third of the track (this one is also over 9 minutes). The focus on slow and looming guitars and tortured screams are something I didn’t know was missing until it happened.

The final 9 minute saga on the album, called “The Infinite Eyes”, attempts to rearrange the pieces from “Divided/Dissolve”, and replaces them with more extreme variations of the riffs; the technical parts are more technical, and the slower parts are more slow and begrudging. The higher levels of contrast that the song displays also give it a somewhat distracted feeling, suffering from the same shortcomings as “The River of Rain”, but not nearly to the same extent. The final song from the album is called “Permanent”, a two and a half minute instrumental track that is a love letter to post-black bands like Alcest, and makes for a peculiar choice for a closing track. The song doesn’t really conclude itself, let alone any of the themes that were previously on the album, so it makes me wonder why this song was even on the album to begin with.

Apologies for the long-winded review, but there is a lot to unpack with this album. I struggled to get acquainted with it for the first five run-through’s due to more pressing matters interrupting me every time I wanted to sit down and actually focus on the album, as it doesn’t have nearly the same impact as background noise. Now that I’ve actually been giving it the undivided attention it deserves, I’m honestly impressed, as it has notably more maturity to it than a lot of other band’s first releases. I feel like this album has all the fixings of something I would enjoy; tasty black metal passages, technical riffs, vocals that aren’t monotonous; however, sometimes this album felt directionless and conflicting with itself. That being said, it’s something I would recommend to a bunch of friends who are into blackened death metal, but not something I see myself replaying more than a few times a month.

Songwriting : 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Transient
2. The Sight of Oblivion
3. The Millionth Grave
4. The Soul To Flesh
5. Viduus (The Veil)
6. Sentient
7. The River Of Rain
8. Divided/Dissolve
9. The Infinite Eyes
10. Permanent
Lineup:
Dylan Wallace – Guitar
Nick Leslie – Guitar
Matt LeBlanc – Bass, Cello
Sean Hickey – Vocals, Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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