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Eliminator – Ancient Light

Eliminator
Ancient Light
by Oil Gonzalez at 26 February 2022, 2:40 AM

Often, I’m tasked with reviewing albums from other countries and even separate continents. It’s interesting finding artists that are based very close to my hometown, like Lancastrian heavy metallers ELIMINATOR. An established band with a strong NWOBHM feel, their latest effort “Ancient Light” has been produced by CONAN’s very own Chris Fielding, a reputable name in the production and recording world. It’ll be interesting to see what the end product is.

The album opens with ARRIVAL, aptly named in some ways. I’m definitely getting that NWOBHM feel, and I can certainly appreciate the solid guitar work. However, I’m finding the vocals very difficult, especially with what I feel is an overreliance on effects. Danny certainly has range and can hit some ridiculously high notes, but does he need that much reverb? Both this song and SILENT STONE feature some impressive extended guitar solos. I also note how the bassist here seems to be a lead instrument at times, whereas others would be simply relegated to a root note style role in other bands. Still, I’m concerned with the amount of reverb being used in the vocals, which simply doesn’t sound natural.

Next up is the album’s title track, “Ancient Light”. I found the guitar tone interesting. Fuller. Brighter. This combined with the use of arpeggios gives me a vibe very similar to Swedish metal legends IN FLAMES. The vocals have improved drastically for me as Danny seems to have morphed into a more naturally sounding tone, which is much more abrasive and harsher. I definitely want to see more of this. The bass has also reverted into a more traditional galloping root note pattern throughout the song, which I think works for this song. It wouldn’t be a true NWOBHM without reference to British legends IRON MAIDEN. The opening chugging galloping rhythm is delightful and a solid tribute to bassist Steve Harris. This also proves that don’t need to have additional strings tune down to multiple steps below standard and ridiculous levels of distortion to try and sound heavy. The vocals return to their insanely high pitches too. Overall, I’m starting to think the album may have got off to a bad start but is now building momentum and I’m getting invested.

The Sculptor And the Stone Lady” contains many of the elements I’ve become accustomed to from ELIMINATOR. Soaring leads, insane guitar solos, infectious grooves. I particularly enjoyed the change of tempo at the mid point, and the brief acoustic guitar passage. Danny outdoes himself and reaches a super human high shriek during this mid point in the song. Bravo! “Lord of Sleep, Dreammaster” has an instantly memorable and simply outstanding chorus! This is the highlight of the album for me! I do wonder if the song was written with the vocal melody first and the rest of the song being built around it, because it is that good! However, whilst I’ve applauded the bassist for being expansive at times, I don’t think it works here, especially when the guitar solo is accompanied by a bass solo. I feel like there’s too much going on and the additional bass melody is an unwelcome distraction. Sticking to the tried and tested root note pattern would be better here. Whereas the album has had a solid NWOBHM feel up until now, “Library” now seems to take a more progressive direction. Especially with the overlapping textures of all instruments, the tempo changes, and the use of synths in what is a much slower chorus. It’s nice to see variety like this.

The progressive theme continues in “Mercy”. Especially at the mid point when the song slows to a glacial drip, and we’re transported to what seems like another prog world! A soaring guitar leads played over a clean arpeggio passage and walking bass line. All instruments seem to have a mind of their own but this chaos and dysfunction works! The progressive elements are continued in the intro to “Foreverless”, whilst maintaining the NWOBHM and power metal backbone that ELIMINATOR are known for in what is the longest song of the album.

“The Nightmare Of Aeon” is by far the slowest of the album with much more experimental elements. The guitar effects combined with this much slower tempo gives the song a shoe gaze style effect at times. A very interesting contrast and fair ending to the album. Despite some interesting production choices and some experimental elements that may not have worked, I really admire the bands’ willingness to push boundaries whilst maintaining the NWOBHM backbone. As a result, they’ve created a hybrid of being a throwback to a classic era for the genre whilst being fresh enough to entice younger and new fans. I’ll definitely be checking out the band’s socials because I would love to see them live!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Arrival
2. Silent Stone
3. Ancient Light
4. Goddess of Life
5. The Sculptor And the Stone Lady
6. Lord of Sleep, Dreammaster
7. The Library
8. Mercy
9. Foreverless
10. The Nightmare of Aeon
Lineup:
Jamie Brandon – Bass
Dave Steen – Drums
Jack MacMichael – Guitars
Danny Foster –  Vocals
Matthew Thomas – Guitars
Record Label: Dissonance Productions
     


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Edited 27 September 2022
 

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