20 15’s release “Laguz” is quite the trip from start to finish blending all of the elements from Folk metal, Viking metal, Blackend death metal, Power metal you name it, it’s all here. From the opening orchestral wonder of a “Golden Path To Samarkand” leading into the wicked ominous “Carthago Delenda Est” the music is on an epic scale uniting grand orchestras with contrasting dark black metal themes. Never overdoing one or the other and always keeping the listener surprised how well things work together. The album picks up speed and aggression with “Under The Sign Of Laguz” which may have been derived from the ancient Rune culture meaning waterfall/sea /evolution or unconscious growth. The song has an underlying Celtic melody combined with bombastic beats and charismatic guitar runs driving the ship through swollen seas and battering waves. One of my favorite songs on the CD.
Track 4 “Von Gott Entfernt” begins with a soft keyboard interlude that eventually morphs into a killer death metal speed zone-with a splash power metal and Gunther’s lyrics almost at a spoken pace, creating a great contrast throughout the piece. As most songs on this CD there is an orchestral opening creating a mood, or shall we say canvas; for the metal mosaic painting to be laid upon the listener’s mind. Always interesting and never overdone nor boring there is always just the right combination on this album, blending all elements on every song, rather than noticeable differences between tracks as on previous albums. “Apostata” is a fine example of the new level of metal craftsmanship Ancient Rites has achieved.
“Legio V Alaudae” has the true appeal to bring the listener into a land of times past. When Romans and Vikings ruled the land, galloping along in a familiar way, yet very interestingly new and exciting, the song has some superb guitar work and catchy hooks grabbing your ear (another favorite of mine). I appreciate how Gunther Theys you and you and you and you utilizes his vocals in a way that is not your standard cookie-cutter growl but as another added instrument that shapes the song full of texture and meaning, as evident on “Mind Unconquered”. The song starts out of the gate full of anticipation of the blasting attack that’s yet to unfold. Sonic and thrashy with black metal roots, the song is down and dirty with raw-rumbling death metal appeal!
“Umbra Sumus” has a dark chant like vibe as some of Ancient Rights previous works, yet is brighter and faster with a progressive time and tempo change throughout. This track kind of reminded me of Andy Sneap’s band Hell. The song is true ear candy regardless of your musical tastes in metal, this one will have you impressed. Annnd.. Another one of my favorites ;}
Track 9 and 10 on Laguz round out this metal opus in grand style. “Frankenland” has a Goatwhore meets Kreator vibe with hints of Iron Clad in the mix. Smooth transitions and head swinging at breakneck speeds throughout the song which leads into the last track “Fatum” which closes out the album nicely holding the magic of Laguz together in a well-balanced way, telling a story of epic proportions and lessons to be learned from our past.
Ancient Rights are definitely heading in the right direction with this release and have demonstrated that metal-music is an entity that is boundless and can spawn into new territories for those with an open mind. Rather than just rehashing the past they have continually evolved and tread new ground while respecting their roots.
Ancient Rites is on Massacre Records
I give this album four out of five broken necks