Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 5/15/2006
posted on 6/2006 By:
Still underrated...and still excellent...
1999's Fatherland from this Belgian black-ish metal outfit is, in my opinion, a criminally under appreciated classic as far as the genre goes and follow-up 2001's Dim Carcosa, was just as good. So then why is it that Ancient Rites are still never really mentioned as an upper echelon band? Lack of productivity? Members involvement in the god awful Danse Macabre (now called Satyrian) and Iron Clad side projects? I don’t know, but after 5 years, Ancient Rites has gloriously returned with another superb take on historical, folky and epic black/heavy metal.
Ancient Rites’ sound is actually sort of hard to pinpoint it’s probably not quite symphonic or eviiiil enough for the Cradle of Filth/ Dimmu Borgir crowd or the church burning elite. There's Guther, still the weak point of the band with his rather half hearted rasps. It's certainly a bit too harsh for the Iron Maiden/prog crowd but the peppy, and sonorous tones aren’t quite melodic death metal either. In truth, Ancient Rites are a mix of all the above, but regardless of how you pigeonhole them, they are one thing; brilliant.
Boasting three guitarists and the return of several former members, Rvbicon covers several areas of history from the Greeks (“Thermopylae”), the Romans (“Invictus”), and even World War I (“Ypres”), and gives them all a dash of well placed orchestration, female sprinklings and epic riffage. The end result is an utterly enjoyable album of extreme yet accessible metal, that's artfully crafted and tempered with epic hues and lots of grandiose structures. Each track tells a tale and has its own character rooted in the time it’s from.
There are so many moments of uplifting and memorable metal here that it's hard to capture in one lone review; the delicate medieval intro of “Crusade”, the Middle Eastern charm of “Templar”, the epic gallop of standout “Invictus”, the somber chorus of “Thermopylae” (the amazing battle of 480 BC where 300 Spartans held off more than 10,000 Persians at a small pass), the beautiful tones of “Cheruscan”. It’s all great stuff with nary a weak moment as only “Mithras” does not seem to measure up to the splendor of other tracks, but is still a solid number in its own right.
As with Fatherland and Dim Carcosa, the production isn’t as lush as I’d like, but it's certainly a sound that Ancient Rites have developed and not messed with. But as with those two albums, it does not stop Rvbicon from being a superior metal album with enough to wide ranging appeal for all spectrums of fans of finely crafted music.
I'm honored to have this album as my 300th review here at Metalreview.com
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