Ancestors - Neptune with Fire (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Neptune with Fire (2008)

North Atlantic Sound

Like most modern doom/stoner/drone metal bands, Ancestors take high cues from Sleep. Their debut release for North Atlantic Sound, the new imprint by the founder of Tee Pee Records and the bassist from Witch, is comprised of only two tracks. It does, however, run about 40 minutes long. Be prepared to strap on your headphones -- this could get to be a long and groovacious journey. It might also help if your hobby lends you the same title as Sleep's "lost album."

The self-titled track starts with some crusty heavy metal grooves, bringing back the early `70s and gelling with the current revival of heavy metal the way it was meant to be played: loud, heavy and full of head-nodding riffs. Given that the song is almost 17 minutes long, gratuitous guitar solos are indeed present. Around six minutes into the song, things fade out into some psychedelic atmospheric noises and the slow burn settles in. I hope you like more guitar solos and gradual build with tempo and dynamics. The song ends with some huge and grandiose guitars, lots of noise, pounding rhythms and some shouting over distorted bass.

As a basic structure, the song is well-written. The theme is established immediately with the heavy riffs, deconstructs to some noisey ambient solos with a steady psychedelic bass groove, and then implements a return to form.

"Orcus' Avarice" starts out with a much less generic, semi-melodic super heavy guitar riff over slow drums and shouting. The tempo picks up into a late `60s psychedelic rock tune, taking just as much from bands like the Yardbirds and Cream as it does from Sabbath. Matching cues from the previous track, the middle span contains more ambient work with the instruments and soloing, building on melodic bass chords and tribal sounding tom rhythms. The song also explores more empty ambient noise and single guitar riffs played quietly before the return to the loud and heavy.

I have to look at this release like I look at most instrumental music. There's only so much I can take. No matter how much I want to love a piece of classical music, I get bored easily. But an impressive debut this is, and a fantastic orchestration deserves credit when credit is due. I just might not be listening to the album from start to finish that often.