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Ancient North – The Dark Ages

ancient north – the dark ages


If one-man Black Metal band Ancient North has proven one thing over the course of two years (and three full-length albums, an EP and a split release) is that its musical direction is quite unsteady. We’ve heard Forlorn, the sole member of the band, choosing several takes on the Black Metal scene with not all of them being equally successful. Yet it is admirable that Forlorn just keeps on churning out albums at the speed of darkness, as with ‘The Dark Ages’, he introduces album number four to us.

While I was not equally enamoured with all of Forlorn’s previously released material I think it is fair to conclude that ‘The Dark Ages’ is definitely his finest work to date. Not only do the fairly steep pace and razor sharp guitar tone on this latest album fit just perfectly with the atmospheric production, it is obvious that Forlorn himself has taken huge steps when it comes to his song writing skills. The subcutaneous melodies and they hauntingly humming keyboards are expertly woven together into a mesmerizing landscape that contrasts against the high speed drums and piercing guitars. It seems not to only draw inspiration from the classic Norwegian Black Metal scene but also from that of the neighbouring Swedish take on the Black Metal genre. The speedy nature of the music makes drawing comparisons to bands like Setherial almost inevitable, while the melodies and intricate song writing resembles of that of early Satyricon or Ulver. The only comment that can be made is that the nearly 40-minute album loses a bit of intensity towards the end, partly because many of the songs go through a more or less similar formula and are therefore a bit lacking in variety.

The moderately raw and subdued production is really worth spending a few words on as well, as it is definitely allowing the album to grow with each listen. While it sounds a bit dim, it still is able to empower the music and propel it into unparalleled authenticity. Assuming that Forlorn is responsible for the recording and production, just as on previously released material, it must be concluded that this youthful musician is making more than substantial progress in all areas. The fact that musically he is still a bit in search here and there, or at least seems to be, can easily be forgiven.

This album has originally been presented by Wulfhere Productions on a CDR that released in only 25 copies. Judging on the musical quality on offer, I would suggest to get this out on a proper release and keeping in mind that Iron Bonehead Productions signed up for the release of Ancient North’s debut album, I would suggest to also pick up this one.