AnciientsAnciients

Heart Of Oak

01. Raise The Sun
02. Overthrone
03. Falling In Line
04. The Longest River
05. One Foot In The Light
06. Giants
07. Faith And Oath
08. Flood And Fire
09. For Lisa

[04/16/13]
[Season of Mist]

To simply discuss Anciients as only the sum of their parts would be to do them a complete injustice. Here on Heart Of Oak this Canadian quartet take on a sludgy sound that is equal parts technical and progressive, with bands like IntronautBaroness and even Opeth all being submerged and absorbed into their murky swamp waters. Still, in execution, Heart Of Oak is so much more than that, it’s a meticulously crafted and instantly satisfying piece that may be the biggest surprise of the year so far.

Raise The Sun‘ serves as the perfect opener, encapsulating the band’s approach in one relatively compact track. Soaring clean vocals command much of the opening, their combination with winding progressive riffs bringing to mind The Sword and Red Album-era Baroness, before seamlessly seguing into achingly heavy riffs and drums that rely on a combination of winding sludgy Opeth-ian passages and flourishes of speed to maintain the energy and memorability maintained so far. Worth mentioning specifically by name as well, is the nine minute journey that takes the centre space on the album; ‘The Longest River‘. Predominantly instrumental for the first half of it’s inception, the track becomes a showcase as to the true talent of the band as it twists and weaves through countless numbers of sludgy passages and rhythmic changes that require the cooperation of the entire band. It almost has a Crack The Skye feel to it in the way it builds up slowly to the glorious peak chorus of ‘all roads lead to, the longest river‘ that will give the same chills that plagued you the first time you heard ‘The Last Baron‘ or ‘The Czar‘.

Throughout Heart Of Oak the punishing riffs let up periodically for bouts of clean picked acoustics that add a whole new level to proceedings. Ranging from the whiskey drenched bluesy trawls of instrumental closer ‘For Lisa‘ to the beautifully dark movements of ‘Flood And Fire‘, they continue to draw the parallels between this Canadian progressive sludge troupe and that aforementioned Swedish prog collective with an obvious understanding of just how effective dynamics can be within metal and make all those colours they weave so much more vibrant and evocative. Their clean, sparkling sheen channels brooding darkness in the same way Death did with many tracks but most notably ‘The Philospher‘ — making their addition as the main support to the Death To All move from and odd quirk to an obvious match.

When talking about Heart Of Oak it’s important to stress that this is simply their debut. With refinement and time on their side, Anciients could easily out do themselves as the blemishes are present but they’re so minor and inconsequential in comparison to the rest of the output that they’re not even worth mentioning. In Heart…, Anciients have moulded something truly remarkable — an album so effortlessly brilliant that their peers should be worried.

 

Anciients’ Heart Of Oak gets…

 

4.5/5

 

– DL

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