The Season of Mist debut from Vancouver metal act Anciients, titled Heart of Oak, is one that is going to get a lot of people talking. Yes, it's extreme metal, and it's certainly progressive, but then again Heart of Oak is so much more, as the band also incorporate plenty of classic metal influences as well. With the mighty Opeth seemingly moving forward into proggier territory, the metal world has been waiting for another band to set the progressive extreme metal world on fire, and Anciients just might be that band.
Not to mine the territory of say, Between the Buried & Me, Mastodon, or Intronaut, these Canadian's have studied their death metal roots well, but also the art of the NWOBHM as well as prog, and Heart of Oak throws all that info a blender and produces a mighty fine glass of musical delights. Twisting, churning riffery abounds on the opening 1-2 punch of "Raise the Sun" and "Overthrone", as Kenny & Chris weave all sorts of massive riffs and blazing Thin Lizzy inspired harmony lines around each other in fine fashion. "Falling in Line" mixes Opeth styled complex majesty with the vocal ferocity of Enslaved, while "The Longest River" is a near 10-minute slice of complex, crushing progressive death metal. The fact that the band utilizes three vocalists here (Kenny, Chris, and bassist Booner) only adds to the variety factor and keeps things exciting from start to finish as you wonder just where the band will go next. After the lovely acoustic interlude "One Foot in the Light", they come crashing back with the textured melancholia that is "Giants", a really intriguing slice of doomy, extreme prog-metal. "Faith and Oath" reminds me of early Mastodon, complete with jackhammer drum blasts courtesy of Hannay, clean & roaring vocals, and huge complex riffs. It's definitely one of the albums highlight cuts. That's not to discredit "Flood and Fire", another molten metal barnburner, or the lush instrumental closer "For Lisa", both of which are great tunes. The latter features plenty of atmosphere and sizzling guitar solos, as the band mix prog with post rock for great effect.
As far as powerful debuts go, this is a damn good one. Heart of Oak signals the arrival of a new heavy hitter on the metal scene, and there's no telling where Anciients will go from here, but it's certainly going to be an exciting ride.
1. Raise the Sun (6:33)
2. Overthrone (6:38)
3. Falling in Line (8:20)
4. The Longest River (9:16)
5. One Foot in the Light (1:07)
6. Giants (7:47)
7. Faith and Oath (6:07)
8. Flood and Fire (7:17)
9. For Lisa (7:18)