No one can say
that Ancestors’ prog metal isn’t ambitious. The band’s second full-length,
following 2008’s Neptune with Fire,
follows the now unfashionable path of 1960s bands including Hawkwind and King
Crimson, combining monolithic riffs with intricate structure and classical
You’ll get a
sense of how hard Of Sound Mind is trying when I say that it proceeds in
four extended movements, each separated by brief interludes of keyboard, synths
or, in one case, soft sounds like brushes on cymbals. Instrumentally, it kind
of works, massively heavy guitar licks crashing down, organ keening in complicated
Bach-fugue patterns, drums pounding like the beat to an arcane sacrifice
ritual. “Bounty of Age,” the second long track, rides an excellent subterranean
bass line through phosphorescent caverns of psychedelia. Still, a sense of
over-drama haunts the chorus, anachronistic words strung together in faux
Gregorian chanted solemnity, climaxes coming often, predictably and with an
audible surge in self-importance.
“The Trial” has
a guitar solo that might be okay if it didn’t go on forever and if you weren’t
obsessed, the whole time, with imagining the metal faces that might accompany
it. And “The Ambrose Law” has the best riff, the nicest aura of stoner drift
and dream. Unfortunately, by the time you get to it, nearly an hour into the
disc, you are already exhausted by the album’s length and continual striving
for big moments.
guys – Justin Maranga (guitar), Nick Long (bass), Brandon Pierce (drums), Chico
Foley (synths and samples) and J. Christopher Watkins (organ) – can play.
They’ve just fallen under the spell of a kind of maximal, unsubtle, complicated
for complicated’s sake metal that isn’t nearly as smart as it thinks it is.
tracks: “The Ambrose Law”