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Ancient - The Cainian Chronicle CD (album) cover

THE CAINIAN CHRONICLE

Ancient

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

2.67 | 5 ratings

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J-Man
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After thoroughly enjoying their debut album, my next venture into the world of Ancient was with 1996's The Cainian Chronicle. Though the band's sound has largely remained unchanged since 1994's Svartalvheim (a big change in direction wouldn't occur until next year's Mad Grandoise Bloodfiends), this Norwegian melodic black metal group did show an increased level in maturity this time around. The Cainian Chronicle shows a possibly less experimental band than what was heard on Svartalvheim, but it's clear that they have also increased their ability to write memorable black metal compositions. My biggest knock with Svartalvheim was that, despite my immense enjoyment for the band's folkier side, their ability to write powerful black metal music wasn't yet quite up to par - that's fortunately been fixed with The Cainian Chronicle, and while the end result does sound a bit more run-of-the-mill than its predecessor, I think the album as a whole is just a tad stronger.

Before one goes into The Cainian Chronicle expecting an average and unoriginal black metal record, that isn't the case - though the focus seems to be in the direction of creating more memorable and less experimental black metal, Ancient still allows plenty of extraneous oddities to pervade their core sound. In addition to a few extended and mildly progressive epics, you've also got the occasional use of clean vocals (both male and female), as well as a beautiful interlude in the form of "Cry of Mariamne". The tribal drumming and strange orgasmic noises in "Exu" make for a pretty lame attempt at creating a dark atmosphere, but it is thankfully followed up by two amazing black metal epics. "The Pagan Cycle" and especially "Homage to Pan" are both excellent black metal songs, and together they stand out along with the four-part title track as highlights of the album.

At over 66 minutes, The Cainian Chronicle is a pretty long album, and not all of the songs are quite up to the standard set by the best that Ancient has to offer - that's not to say that the rest of this observation is bad, but it generally comes across as pretty average in the end. Thankfully, a few standout tracks still make The Cainian Chronicle a worthwhile sophomore effort from Ancient, and while I wouldn't venture to call it flawless, it's a recommended listen for black metal fans. The Cainian Chronicle is a less original album than Svartalvheim, but at the same time it is a more mature and professional work. Although I slightly prefer The Cainian Chronicle, I'll rate it with the same 3.5 stars I handed out to their debut.

J-Man | 3/5 |

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