Ancient - _Proxima Centauri_
(Metal Blade, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (
Ancient halts their recent downward slide with this surprisingly powerful assault of mainstream mayhem. Closer to Cradle of Filth in style than their Norse counterparts this time (due in no small part to the keyboards and Kristin's occasional female snarling), Aphazel and Co. depart from the drawn-out monotony of their previous releases for a more commercially viable crunchiness and aggression. While never reaching earth-shattering heights, the new material presents a tighter, catchier side of the band, due no doubt in part to the commendable Los Angered studios production. Melodic, hummable tracks like "Satan's Children" will no doubt gain the band a substantial following among the newer breed of longhairs, even as die-hards bemoan the band's lapse into the characterless sterility typical of newer acts. Moments of brilliance shine through at odd intervals, the band's knack for creating ambience becoming evident on slower passages (see the intro segment to "Apophis"), while never really building on the promising interplay between epic riff and atmospheric synth. Points given for coming up with a remotely engaging album among all the sub-standard filth, but the black metaller in me still misses the atmosphere and obscurity of the _Svartalvheim_ days.
(article published 12/4/2002)
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