Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ancestral Fog

Ancestral Fog & Temple of Baal Split
Battlesk'rs Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

Ancestral Fog:
1. Fundaments of Life Denied
2. Von (Von Cover)
Temple of Baal:
3. Living Fleshthrone
4. Satan's Legions

Side Temple of Baal: ...coming eventually...
Side Ancestral Fog:

I ended up picking this split up because I had been following Temple of Baal for some time now and hearing the intensity of Ancestral Fog was a pleasant surprise.  It certainly got me interested in what else the band had to offer beyond this split.  I do wonder if these were tracks left off of "Rid the Human Plague", because they were also recorded in 2004 in the same location, however these weren't mixed and mastered until 2005.  I am glad to see this material see the light of day, but by now (2013) this project seems to be on hiatus or done altogether.

I'm not sure why they didn't include these on the tape, but at least we wind up with a split that has two very strong bands on it.  I feel like this is a rare occurrence, so I'm happy when I get two great bands out of a split.  Since this is recorded in the same session everything I said below about "Rid the Human Plague" basically still stands for this.  Since the mixing and mastering happened quite a while after the recording, I feel like that has given these two tracks a slightly different feel.  They feel a little smoother and less raw.  "Fundaments of Life Denied" is a blistering attack of fast Black Metal and feels somewhat reminiscent of an Antaeus approach, but blended with the ever present Merrimack sound.  They finish up their two songs with a classic Von cover, which they perform perfectly.  I really like their rendition of the song, because it sounds really good sped up a bit more.  This is absolutely worth checking out!

Ancestral Fog - Rid the Human Plague
Battlesk'rs Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ordination in Uttermost Malevolence
2. Anthelmintic.Is.Death.Sentence
3. A Messiah Against the Human Plague
4. Tearing the Veil

After five years of silence from this project we finally get some studio recordings and the only unfortunate aspect is there are only four!  This cassette comes with a pro-printed booklet, complete with lyrics, and a pro-printed cassette.  A lot has clearly changed with this project, the first being none of the names are recognizable from the first tape.  However, after looking around I see Lord Fafnir has changed his name to Terrorizt and he is only responsible for the vocal work on this recording, whereas he did guitar and vocals in the first.  This time the guitar work is handled by Perversifier of the mighty Merrimack and Scars from Christicide.  As you can imagine we have quite a different recording on our hands here.

I first heard of Ancestral Fog because of their split with Temple of Baal, so I'm hearing these demo tapes in retrospect.  The first thing I notice is how similar the music is to Merrimack's "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  It is really interesting to hear the sound develop here, because this is sort of a blend of early Merrimack material and the thoughtful compositions on "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  It blends pretty well and gives Ancestral Fog a somewhat interesting sound between fiercely intense and contemplative.  Naturally this is a far cry from the mundane material I experienced with the first demo.  Unfortunately instead of continuing with this in the name of Ancestral Fog, I feel like they took the style to Merrimack and recorded "Of Entropy and Life Denial".  This album is quite exceptional, so I guess I can't complain about this too much, but I would have liked to see the Ancestral Fog project continue.

"Rid the Human Plague" is an excellent progression and certainly lands Ancestral Fog on my watch list.  If you really loved Merrimack's "Of Entropy and Life Denial" then this demo is a must hear, because it's a more raw fiercer approach to that kind of material.  Just listen to that opening riff of "A Messiah Against the Human Plague", that is just wonderful!

Ancestral Fog - Live in Duinkerke
Akedia Recordz, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Thy Torment Begins
2. Nachtelyk Sabbat in Moëren
3. The Art of Battlefury
4. Lion's Banner Rules this Land of Eternal Desecration
5. Beyond the Realms of Algol
6. Possessed by Faith
7. Impious Choirs
8. Preus Vlaemsch Volk

After forming in 1999, Ancestral Fog had enough material to start playing out.  Rather than record a demo first they present this nearly 40 minute live performance and eight tracks to show off their work.  This material was released on cassette limited to an hand-numbered unknown limitation (by me at least).  I happen to own copy #267 though.  My copy has a pro-printed booklet with a dubbed tape.

Live recordings are usually not something I like a band starting off with, especially when it's a new band still in their demo stages.  As can be expected the recording quality is not that great and things aren't mixed very well.  To be honest, they're actually mixed a little better than I expected they would be, so that's a plus in this recordings favor.  I wish I could say more about the music, but Ancestral Fog really do play a very typical style of Black Metal.  It's raw and cold, but the riffing wasn't exceptional enough to draw me in deeply.  Then again, some of the choices riffs might be marred by the recording quality.  They're not terrible or anything, they just play fairly standard fast and intense Black Metal, which does make good for a live performance. Some of this unoriginality might stem from the fact this band wrote the songs so fast, or someone just wrote a lot of songs and formed a band after the fact and that might be the case with Lord Fafnir.  The end results is a mixed bag of better quality material and generic.

Personally, I really wanted to hear Ancestral Fog's back catalog and I was really hoping it would be a little better than this.  Honestly you should seek this out if you really like live performances or if you like raw unbridled demos in the old French vein.

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