Ancient Wisdom - _For Snow Covered the Northland_
(Avantgarde Music, 1996)
by: Henry Akeley (7 out of 10)
I'm not sure why these guys chose to open their album with the piano-and-black-metal-vocal-only "Hymn to the Northern Empire." Perhaps it's because they don't know how sick the rest of us are of all this hot air coming from The North. Anyway, this is some very cool doom metal, pairing up black metal inspired vocal technique with riffs that totally recall the killer dual guitar stylings of Tipton and Downing on the first (best!) Judas Priest records. (I'm talking of monsters like _Sad Wings of Destiny_ here, not the cheesier fist-banging stuff like _British Steel_.) On "No Tears at His Funeral", this approach sounds just great - slow, melodic lead riffing ringing out clearly on top of chiming metallic chords and good, laid-back double bass drumming. Songs like this one sound incredible live, I bet, and they definitely sound pretty good on this CD, given that the guitar sound is thick and reasonably clear. No keyboards get in the way of the echoing strings, which take a fuzzier, Iommi-style turn on two unnamed bonus tracks, only to rip abruptly into 80s-style chainsaw riffing. The early Priest style definitely dominates, though, which I think is a very cool thing. Heavy stuff.

(article published 2/1/1997)

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