Review by Tarja Virmakari
Album: “Back To The Land Of The Dead”
Label: EMP Underground/EMP Label Group, Soulseller Records
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
[see the tracklisting below]
Norwegian extreme metal titans ANCIENT released their long awaited 7th studio album, “Back To The Land Of The Dead” on September 16th in North America via (Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s) EMP Underground/EMP Label Group, and in the rest of the World by Soulseller Records. “Back To The Land Of The Dead” is a comeback for ANCIENT, 12 years after the previous release “Night Visit”. The album was recorded in 7 different locations, in Norway, Denmark, Italy and Greece, mixed in Elfo Studios in Italy, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios. The album was produced by Ancient.
Being the band’s first album in 12 years, it’s safe to say that the level of expectation was huge to listen to this 66 minutes effort, divided in 12 original songs plus a Bathory cover. ANCIENT‘s genre, since the beginning was defined, by fans and media, as (melodic) black metal with roots in Norway, but I dare to say that with “Back To The Land Of The Dead” the musical style moves towards extreme; spiced with fragments of mysterious and sinister. A great amount of clean guitars, and various dark atmospheres are the band’s trademark! Zel‘s voice has the right sharp edge that slides along music as a beast of prey. And no need to say, that the contribution of Nick Barker on drums, brings an added impetus to the album, with his ferocious and recognizable drumming work, making so this album the most aggressive and fastest album of ANCIENT, so far. The new line-up sounds good, and it has gained the confidence, melting together the years’ experience, taking the best out of it.
Thematically “Back To The Land Of The Dead” speaks about the devil, the spirit of the devil and how it influences us in various devastating and destructive ways. The album cover shows a hooded figure coming back to “the land of the dead” to wake up the “spiritually dead people there”.
All the tracks on the album work well together in harmony; varying between the top speed and slowdowns, using also lighter parts with acoustic guitars, creating so the mythical atmospheric concept of “Back To The Land Of The Dead”. I personally got hooked to this album, right after the first listening. I had the privilege to get it already some months before the release, and since then, I’ve consumed the tracks over and over again, trying even to “get enough of it” but instead each time the album takes my breath away, like it did months ago.
To be able to detail my thoughts on this album, I have to “slice” it between the different atmospheres it creates in me. Each part has its own different charm, and all parts are linked harmoniously together, so that one part cannot lack the other one, otherwise the album wouldn’t be complete. It’s like a sequence that leaves in you a full and enjoyable harmony.
“Back To The Land Of The Dead” is like a logical and distinctive movie, you have to see it fully, several times, to get the right taste of it. If somebody should have any hint of doubt on this album, I challenge you to listen to this masterpiece, without comparing to earlier ones… without doubts, this one will hit you with its magic!
Check out the album teaser here:
The new ANCIENT line-up is:
Zel (aka Aphazel) on vocals/guitars/keyboards
Dhilorz on guitars/bass
Nick Barker on drums
Ghiulz Borroni (Bulldozer) on guitars
For more information:
ANCIENT: http://www.facebook.com/ancientband | http://www.ancientband.net
EMP LABEL GROUP: http://empmerch.com – http://emplabelgroup.com
SOULSELLER RECORDS: http://www.soulsellerrecords.com
“Back To The Land Of The Dead” track listing:
1. Land of The Dead (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Dhilorz and Zel)
2. Beyond The Blood Moon (Music and lyrics by Zel)
3. The Sempiternal Haze (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
4. The Empyrean Sword (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
5. The Ancient Disarray (Music and lyrics by Zel)
6. Occlude The Gates (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
The Excruciating Journey
7. Part I Defiance and rage (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
8. Part II The Prodigal Years (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
9. Part III The Awakening (Music by Dhilorz, lyrics by Zel)
10. Death Will Die (Music and lyrics by Zel)
11. The Spiral (Music and lyrics by Zel)
12. Petrified By Their End (Music by Dhilorz and Zel, lyrics by Zel)
Bonus track :
13. 13 Candles (Music and lyrics by Quorthon)
Stream “Death Will Die” and “Land Of The Dead” here: