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THE CAINIAN CHRONICLE

Ancient

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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2 stars Ancient returned in 1996 with this album, their second album.

Gone is the pretty pointless new age/acoustic interludes. A new arrival is the all out blast attack with some hints of folk rock melodies. The usual screaming black metal vocals is here and so is the tremelo picking guitars too. This is 100 % proof black metal. No less, no more. In this respect, Ancient is just followers although they are not alone in this. Primitive black metal still have a pretty big following and this album should really appeal to them.

Quality wise...... well, I find myself almost enjoying this album. The final track Homage to Pan is a really good track which I hope, since I bought the other albums too, is giving a pointer to the follow up albums. The rest of the album is a very decent album.

You can do far worse than purchasing this album. But this album is for black metal fans only, I am afraid.

2.5 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#463656)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'The Cainian Chronicle' - Ancient (6/10)

The debut album of the Norwegian black metal band Ancient had fairly impressed me. With the sort of folkish influence that also made Ulver and Enslaved's first albums so magical, Ancient's left-of-centre approach to black metal was both surprising and effective. While this obscure band from the Norwegian scene had some great black metal riffs and howls going on, it was the more ambient and folky side of Ancient that got me hooked on them, it was something that distinguished them from the devilish hordes of the scene. 'The Cainian Chroncle' sees Ancient return again a couple of years later, and this time around, there is a heavier focus on the black metal aspects of this band. Although the black metal element of Ancient has been considerably improved from the last time around, its length and somewhat inconsistent second half puts the debut a slice above this one.

Ancient were a fairly progressive act for black metal at this stage, and the first four tracks of 'The Cainian Chronicle' compose the title track, a suite of music that seeks to tell some dark story that only black metal could be fitting of. Although this is very ambitious on paper, the music is not too much different from other Norwegian black metal this time around. There is a tad more of a melodic depth here than the par, but the music itself is fairly straightforward, focusing on giving a dark and powerful atmosphere. Aphazel's vocals here sound alike most black metal, but I find they are more comprehensible than most. Also, there are some spoken word sections which seem more for the sake of moving the story along than anything else. The music is fast paced and furious, but these otherwise generic black metal riffs become much stronger with the added melodic leads.

The first half of this album is very good, even better than Ancient's debut, I would say. Although there isn't that same folk vibe and most distinct style, Ancient's improvement in their black metal territory makes 'The Cainian Chronicle' a true feast of atmosphere. Sadly, the album goes on for far too long, and the second half is quite a bit less interesting or memorable than the first. After the title suite is over, the songs naturally start becoming less inspired. The interlude track 'Exu' is where I really noticed that 'The Cainian Chronicle' had taken a dive south, hearing convoluted tribal drums underneath what only sounds like a female and some chthonic hobgoblin reaching a state of sexual arousal together. I'm sure this may have had the intent of being a statement of primal energy or some new age philosophy, but it comes off as being pretty funny, and throws off the atmosphere that the first half of the album tried so hard to build up.

The final two tracks on the album are long enough to be called little epics of their own, but here, it definitely feels as if the album has drawn on for too long, and the riffs have become less melodic, and alot more generic. Ancient was certainly not lacking ambition here, but especially in the second half of this album, the ambition seems to turn on them, and results in something that overshoots the mark, and risks becoming monotonous before the end. If only this album had been edited and maintained that same sort of atmospheric beauty that those first few tracks demonstrated, 'The Cainian Chronicle' would have overshadowed its predecessor.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#509096)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#609756)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Ancient were one of those "Me too!" bands that popped up once the whole Norwegian black metal wave was really cooking. Following in the growing symphonic trends at the time, along with the usual shrieks, blastbeat sections and tremelo riffs, there's an abundance of keyboard usage for atmospheric effect, occasional female vocals and some folksy sections. All par for the course, which would be fine if Ancient were exceptional at what they did. That just isn't the case. Despite having song titles divided into "parts" and some pretty long tracks, this collection of tunes is pretty much standard mid nineties symphonic black metal that's certainly listenable with a decent production and occasional epic feel, but nothing to set them apart or approach the status of the more renowned names of the genre.

They were certainly ambitious, filling up this disc with over an hour's worth of music, including a silly interlude (sounding like some pagan rite performance art) and some epic length tracks that really have no reason to be so long. Talentwise, the musicians seem competent enough for what the songwriting entails, but don't go expecting any technical antics. The songs themselves have moments where riffs get close to being memorable and powerful, but those tides soon ebb as fast as they came. The album gets into a decent stride towards the end with the last two tracks (particularly The Pagan Cycle) in which the band finally seem to hit their stride, but getting there can be a chore.

The music here isn't terrible by genre standards whatsoever, it's just completely redundant of other acts that had more of an identity or creative edge to them. Ancient always came across to me a bandwagon jumper in a sense, wanting to be part of the big party but not bringing any presents, desserts or drinks along. Another one of those groups from the heyday of the black metal's second wave lost in a sea of corpsepaint.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#763467)
Posted Monday, June 04, 2012 | Review Permalink

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