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There are clear signs of advancement on Ancient Rites' second full-length offering, both intriguing and disappointing. Still nobly standing apart from the black metal mainstream of Mayhem, Emperor and the other bands of murderers and arsonists, the sound here continues to be mostly fast with a greater death metal influence, and the eighties sound has now been mostly phased out in favour of a burgeoning style that Ancient Rites would later realise was folk metal, but here seems a little confused.
Although this can't be classed as folk/Viking metal by any means, there are enough contrived "epic" touches that point towards that general direction for the future, all of which move this Belgian band from its fun but stagnant roots in old-style black metal towards something more contemporary. The most significant departure comes in Günther Theys' vocals, which used to be demonic and scary in a calm manner, but here are much more dramatic and even over-the-top at times, indulging in a spoken word incantation in 'Quest for Blood' and at other times seeming to adopt the emotions of characters, but he still burps along with the best of them.
This album boasts higher production values than its predecessor which allow Bart Vandereycken's guitars to sound heavier and a lot more powerful while relegating the less interesting (but at least no longer artificial) drums of Walter Van Cortenberg more into the background, but this is a less exciting album in terms of fun guitar riffs, and the solos now tend to squeal around randomly in the style of death metal. For its intermediate position this isn't an album I enjoy as much as others in the Ancient Rites line, and the thoughtful keyboard touches and interesting, even contrived structural changes make it a stronger album on the whole than its predecessor, but that was more a lot more fun (in a diabolical way).
1. Blasfemia Eternal
3.Garden of Delights (EVA)
4.Quest for Blood (Le Vampire)
5.Blood of Christ (Mohammed Wept)
7.(Het Verdronken Land Van) Saeftinge
8.Shades of Eternal Battlefields (Our Empire Fell)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Blasfemia Eternal
2 Total Misanthropia
3 Garden Of Delights (EVA)
4 Quest For Blood (Le Vampire)
5 Blood Of Christ (Mohammed Wept)
6 Epebos Aionia
7 Saeftinge (Het Verdronken Land Van)
8 Shades Of Eternal Battlefields (Our Empire Fell)
9 Vae Victis
10 Fallen Angel