Ancient Rites

"Epic-Extreme-Folk Metal" is apparently the dub for Belgian blasters ANCIENT RITES. Having supports A-class acts […]
By Daniel Fox
March 5, 2015
Ancient Rites - Laguz album cover

"Epic-Extreme-Folk Metal" is apparently the dub for Belgian blasters ANCIENT RITES. Having supports A-class acts such as DEICIDE and JUDAS PRIEST, they are sure as shit making a name for themselves; with compositions such as those found on the new album, "Laguz", it is not so hard to see why. The word "epic" doesn't quite do this piece of majesty much justice; take 2003 DIMMU BORGIR, BROCAS HELM and ENSIFERUM, and you have the massive slab of balls-out Folk bombast that is "Laguz".

Take yourself back in time, to the era of Pagan Europe; the word 'laguz' being Proto-Germanic for 'lake'. A lengthy intro track should at least give the faintest hint as to what manner of dramatic splendour one can expect next, least not the massive, rhythmic-yet-soaring behemoth that is "Carthago Delenda Est". "Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed". The band have literally written a song about the destruction of one of Earth's greatest, ancient cities. The majority of the track is a never-ending tirade of merciless drumming, such that creates an impermeable wall of sound. Eventually it breaks down into vicious, meaty staccatos and embellished with slick guitar leads The band's vocalist adopts a unique approach to lyrical delivery; sometimes halfway between a growl and a yell, not so unlike KEEP OF KALESSIN (whose vibes you may catch a lot in listening to this album), but often enunciates the lyrics in a dark, gravelly and raspy, spoken-word approach. It's eery, it's ominous, it's oppressive and it's damn-near effective, if not verging on a little monotonous.

Infact, it would appear that that is, essentially, how Gunther Theys performs on the majority of the album, the vocals a regal delivery of epic poetry; poetry backed by a masterwork backdrop of Extreme Metal. "Von Gott Entfernt" is another such piece that promises domineering and assaulting force; carried on a wind of soaring atmospherics, all of a sudden, it is submerged in a swathe of major keys. I can't say I've ever heard Extreme Metal in Major before, and I doubt I would ever take it seriously. Not the easiest track on the album to get one's head around, it is imperative to consider it less of a RHAPSODY OF FIRE track and a piece of artillery fire soaked in Germanic folk sensibilities. Come to think of it, do we often hear much Folk Metal that isn't Celtic or Norse in origin? If ANCIENT RITES create Germanic Folk Metal, which they most certainly do, it surely makes for a nice change of pace. Further listening will enlighten you as to why; the pounding, uncompromising driving-force of "Mind Unconquered" sounds nothing like that which you'd expect out of ELUVEITIE or the swarms of Nordic Folk bands, but rather captures a special identity that can't really be found with another band.

Accessing the music on "Laguz" is no easy task, given the daunting breadth of its wondrous compositions; it is no manner of sticking a double-kick metal band together with keyboards and a violin, it's creating Symphonic and Folk mastery with a real cultural identity, something that ANCIENT RITES have just unleashed onto the world; the heaviest, most technical Belgians you'll hear.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

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"Laguz" Track-listing:

1. Golden Path To Samarkand
2. Carthago Legenda Est
3. Under The Sign Of Laguz
4. Von Gott Entfernt (Bij Nacht en ontij)
5. Apostata (Imperator Fidelis)
6. Legio V Alandae (Fifth Larks Legion)
7. Mind Unconquered
8. Ombra Sumus (We Are Shadows)
9. Frankenland
10. Fatum (Ill Fate / Noodlot)

Ancient Rites Lineup:

Gunther Theys - Vocals
Erik Sprooten - Guitars
Walter Van Cortenberg - Drums
Domingo Smets - Guitars

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