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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Reviews: Ancient Ascendant, Disbelief, Midnight Rider (Reviews By Rich)

Ancient Ascendant: Raise The Torch (Candlelight Records)

Ancient Ascendant are a band I used to see perform regularly several years ago with the band seemingly always landing a support slot on many extreme metal shows I attended. In the years since the band dropped off my radar but have seemingly kept active as Raise The Torch is their third record which has been released through Candlelight Records and boasts a production job by the legendary Dan Swanö. Ancient Ascendant always had a bit of a different take on the death metal sound and the music on Raise The Torch is no exception sounding like a cross between melodic death metal, black metal and death 'n' roll.

 It's a winning formula generally with catchy melodies mixing with savage tremolo riffage and balls out rock 'n' roll swagger especially on songs such as Our Way, Scaling The Gods and Grasping The Torch. Also special mention must go to the more progressive leanings of Foreign Skies. Inconsistency is my main criticism of the album. The above mentioned songs are the definite highlights but the rest of the album generally does not reach the heights of these resulting in some forgettable songs. Where this album is good though it is very damn good indeed and I'm sure many of these songs will be amazing in a live environment. Ancient Ascendant have been pushing the boundaries of their death metal sound since day one and continue to do so with their third album. Let's just hope the next one has consistency to back it up as well. 7/10

Disbelief: The Symbol Of Death (Listenable Records)

Long running German death groove bruisers Disbelief return after a seven year gap with their tenth album The Symbol Of Death. There have been some line-up changes in the band since 2010's Heal! with new guitarists and a new drummer. The line up changes and break between albums seems to have done the band the world of good as The Symbol Of Death is a ferocious album. The sound of the album is what we've come to expect of Disbelief with groove heavy death metal tunes with hints of melodic death metal.

What's different here is how recharged and re-energised the band sound with tracks such as Full Of Terrors, The Unsuspecting One and Rest In Peace positively bristling with energy and intensity. Similarly tracks such as One By One and Embrace The Blaze explore the bands more melodic side with some progressive rhythms going on as well. Unfortunately with a running length of 63 minutes the album does contain its fair amount of filler material especially towards the end of the album where you start to feel it has outstayed its welcome. With a few songs cut out and a reduced running time this album would have been perfect but as it stands it is a flawed but brilliant piece of groove laden death metal. 7/10

Midnight Rider: Manifestation (Massacre Records)

The retro rock and metal movement seems to be in full swing in 2017 and the latest band to join the ranks are Germany's Midnight Rider with their debut album Manifestation released on Massacre Records. Midnight Rider have a retro sound harking back to the mid 1970's but taking major influence from two bands in particular - Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. The album comes across as if you mixed Black Sabbath's Master Of Reality and Judas Priest's Stained Class and the result is a triumphant batch of rifftastic heavy metal anthems.

 The vocals by frontman Wayne sound like a cross between Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Robert Plant but with a bit of added grit and really compliment the sublime riffs, groovy bass and solid drumming. Highlights include the Judas Priest leaning Tears Of Your Temptation, the Black Sabbath-like Creature Of The Night and Led Zeppelin inspired Unknown Woman Of The Seine. The band have very clear influences which they wear a bit too much on their sleeves but with such strong influences as these and songwriting as good as it is on the record it's safe to say I'm won over. Retro bands can be a bit hit or miss with me but Midnight Rider definitely get my seal of approval. Unoriginal but insanely enjoyable. 8/10

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