Ancestral – The Beginning – 2.5/5
This is an album I actually wanted to rate highly, but the more I listened to it, the more I realised that everything they attempt falls short and being anything more than mediocre. There is a wide range of styles presented, from the highly melodic power metal ballads to the almost-melodeath style reminiscent of Children of Bodom, so whilst you can be sure of some diversity to the proceedings, little stands out as being more than a mediocre attempt at a style someone else has already coined.
It is this diversity that led to my initial interest, they seem to have plenty of ideas and the willingness to see them through, but where they lack is in the execution. The drums prove capable of doing what’s required of them; with a good variety of paces they stand prominent in the end result. Don’t go expecting much more than a slightly above average affair and the drumming proves a solid device for keeping the tempo of the track. The bass too can be heard at most points, largely following the rhythm guitars he assists the drums in a very simplistic manner.
Unfortunately, the vocalist really destroys this one, capable of two main styles, a blackened semi-rasped growl, and a cleaner power metal tone. Now, Japan has never been renowned for having large numbers of competent vocalists but this is ridiculous. Power metal vocals ought to have a sense of power to them oddly enough. When he sings quietly he isn’t bad, but it’s when he tries something with more energy you suddenly realise he has all the power of a 30-stone man trying to get out of the back seat of a very small car. Imagine a generic post-hardcore whine, add a Japanese accent so thick I can’t tell what language he’s singing and you start to understand my issues arising here. Fortunately his raspy growls aren’t this bad, again lacking in power, but are certainly passable. Perhaps even – dare I say it – good at times.
Its rather fortunate that this band did have one saving grace, bringing it back from the depths of the downright dreadful, he provides variety of styles of riff, from the blackened tremolo to the slow and emotional, providing his own sense of tricks and fills to the proceedings, they feel thick and full and sustain the track. (I think it should go without saying that) his solos constitute many of the high points, but I can’t help wondering, why is he there?
This is the debut of a young band, and there is plenty of room for improvement. The number of idea’s and – at least the guitarists’ – ability to make them work and integrate them into a track shows promise. If the guitars could work on squeezing every ounce of creativity out of those riffs (and perhaps firing the vocalist), this may not be the last we heard from them. If only they’d spent as long on their music as they do on their hair.
Highlights: Never End, Turn Off, The Fourth