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Anciients | ‘Heart Of Oak’

Well, this one sort of came out of nowhere. Didn’t it?

Though we shouldn’t exactly be surprised in one regard as Vancouver has been becoming a bit of a hot bed of killer releases over the last year, whether it’s Chapel on one end or Baptists on the other, but you can add Anciients and this debut full-length ‘Heart of Oak’ to the pile now too.

This is a record that’s quite hard to pigeonhole as the band flirt with a whole host of styles here, while still managing to avoid the pitfall of over saturating the record – too many cooks and all that.

But Anciients have crafted a deft and focused album that sways from Opeth and Agalloch rich melodies to titanic grooves to classic rock’s cocksure saunter. It’s rather exhilarating to hear a band pull it off so solidly.

There’s a lot to sink your teeth into with this album, particularly with the vocals and twin guitars, with the duelling performances from guitarists and vocalists Chris Dyck and Kenneth Paul Cook being the definite talking point of this album.

On every track, they’ll peel off slick lead guitars that owe a debt to Thin Lizzy all the while complementing it with potent twin clean vocals, making for some quality harmonies. Now while the band is all about those melodies on this hour long listen, they’re still concerned with contrasts, and ‘Heart of Oak’ isn’t afraid to gather momentum and swerve to the much heavier end of the spectrum.

Take a track like ‘The Longest River’ for instance, which coalesces so many of the band’s different traits, first creeping in with a solemn intro that’s soon disrupted by vigorous lead guitars and ambling riffs.

It shows the band’s penchant for the dramatic while not relying on clichés. It’s also a song that sees some of the best to and fro between clean and harsh vocals.

Despite all the different graces fluttering about, like ‘Falling In Line’ brazenly opening in ballad-like territory, Anciients still, above all else, focus on bringing the grooving and snaking rock, as heard on ‘Overthrone’.

Ending with ‘For Lisa’, Anciients show once again that they have the right idea with this instrumental after the climax of ‘Flood and Fire’. Sleek bluesy guitars and a few shameless Iommi-isms are the order of the day on this one, allowing for something of a breather to soak in everything that’s happened on ‘Heart of Oak’.

A definite winner here from the Canadians which is almost hard to believe is only their debut album given its professional flair and proficiency.

4/5 – Jonathan Keane ::: 23/02/13

  1. Reckon I’ll be having some of that! Cool track.

  2. Huge album this, every second is packed.

  3. want!

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