Ancient Rites - Laguz

Ancient Rites Laguz cover
Ancient Rites
Massacre Records
That was a “dive into the past”! I admit that Ancient Rites have been under my radar for more than 15 years. As I see they also released their previous album in 2006. Now after 9 whole years they’re back with a new album. But what happened to that up-and-coming band which started on the early 90s? Did they finally fulfill all those high expectations from their early years? Unfortunately not. They didn’t make it at long last and they never managed to become as popular and successful as Rotting Christ, Dimmu Borgir, Septic Flesh and many other acts that started releasing albums in the same (more or less) period. I still remember the “Evil Prevails” EP in 1992… and the homonymous track as well.
Anyhow, enough with the history lessons. I just felt a bit “nostalgic” for that era for a sec. Gunther Theys, the band’s mastermind, still has some good ideas and even though Ancient Rites are not so extreme or evil nowadays as they used to be, they still play well. The first thing that one notices is the symphonic/epic/Viking character of the new album. The atmospheric black metal (fast and mid-tempo) parts are also there but that classical/symphonic themes overwhelm the whole album. Responsible for the album’s orchestrations is Oliver Phillips. The other (not so good) thing that one notices right away is the average production. Especially the drums, reminded me of the “glorious drum machines” that most of the extreme metal bands used on their recordings. I read that there’s a drummer on the album but it’s hard to believe it… if it’s true then they totally messed things up with his drumming… too bad! The production is blurry & not powerful at all and the classical themes are somewhat high in the mix. It does remind of the late90s/early 00s productions but it’s to wonder how one can deliver such a production in 2015!
All things considered “Laguz” is a fair album. The fast drumming, the (buried) guitars, the black metal parts, the atmospheric, classical & symphonic themes are all there but unfortunately they haven’t been mixed up that well at long last. Certainly, the album has its moments (for instance, the melodic- atmospheric “Saturn”) but overall they should have taken better care of it. It feels that it was made in a hurry even though the guys had 9 years to work on it. I do not know what has gone wrong but I’m sure that Ancient Rites can do better than this in every part – and especially on the production field. Let’s hope it won’t take ‘em 9 years to release a new work and to eliminate those elements which hold them back…