Ancient Rites – Rubicon

ancientrites_072306_rubiconMetal journalists are quick to call upon words like “progression” to justify a radically different approach to sound. Longtime fans are left with an unquenched thirst for the spirit of older material. More than often they yearn for the sound found within the first sparks of creativity pioneering familiar influence with unique attributes. Bands today like Samael, Immolation, and Dark Tranquillity have all cited progression and it seems the word acts like a blanket covering the real potential of these artists. Ancient Rites have been a longtime favorite of mine. I enjoy everything in their catalogue from the 1994 debut to “Rubicon”. While the music has changed, it hasn’t been dumbed down in any sense. “The Diabolic Serenades” was wonderful at offering hooks and catchy riffing with a distinctive sound Ancient Rites could call their own. Their sound has evolved since then and members have come and gone. Today, Ancient Rites is made up of 7 full-time members and with them comes a complex musical album. I think the greatest change for Ancient Rites was the guitar work from “Fatherland” to now. The chords still chug away but the guitar leads are more frequent and elaborate. Aside from what the synth and bass contribute melodically, “Rubicon” has incredible leads composed in a very different style. Its almost as if much of the melody was adapted from the synth and taken from there. Solos are precise and crystal clear. The album benefits greatly from the synth work which, as noted, offers a different kind of aura than the guitars. The melodies are not drifting up and down scales or noodling in some complex exercise as much as just laying down a very authentic medieval sounding tapestry. This is what makes “Rubicon” so versatile. They complement each other so well in slow, fast, bombastic, and atmospheric moments. Believe me, this album has a lot of variation within a central theme. Since “Fatherland” was released, many critics have decided Ancient Rites is now just a power metal band with brutal vocals. This is a mistake. Ancient Rites have found a niche far greater than the power metal craze. They have experience behind them and a consistent dedication to history, battle, and homeland, which are themes of power metal – but also themes that existed in Ancient Rites when they were more aggressive and raw. One has to respect the vision of Günther Theys as he has always taken us to his realm with each release. “Rubicon” is an incredible listen start to finish. I would encourage anyone into atmospheric/medieval themed metal to give this an honest listen. As Ancient Rites cross the Rubicon they leave a path of influence… Perhaps one that will not be immediately accepted with the obsession of “All things kvlt”. “Rubicon” is a testament to what progression should entail and Ancient Rites are a band worthy of respect in a scene of imitators. “Alea Iacta Est.” – TRA

~ by martyworm on January 3, 2009.

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