Ancient Rites - Dim Carcosa
Hammerheart Records
Viking/Folk Metal
11 songs (46:33)
Release year: 2001
Ancient Rites, Hammerheart Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

When I first heard about Ancient Rites I was not really sure what to expect. After doing some research on the Belgian band I learned that they had originally started as a black metal outfit, but had many line-up changes after the initial loss of two members, one in a car crash and another to suicide. Dim Carcosa is the first full-length album I have ever listened to by the band and it shows off some real talent. For those who are interested in the album title, Carcosa is a fictional city in a short story by Ambrose Bierce, which is described as mysterious and possibly cursed or part of some underworld. What you get here musically is a mixture of symphonic black and Viking metal along with many folk elements. For the most part these influences come together very well and the band manages to create some very impressive songs.

The Return begins with calm keyboards and symphonic elements that create a good opening for an epic metal album such as this. Exile opens with heavy riffs and fast drums along with the symphonic elements. This is a good way to start the album off, very fast and catchy with both growled and clean vocals from Gunther Theys. Victory Or Valhalla continues in this same vein, remaining fast, but not quite as catchy, though with plenty of fast guitar and drum work. This album is all about powerful epic-sounding songs, and the next track ...And The Horns Called For War, is a perfect example of what the band can do. It incorporates plenty of symphonic and folk elements with standard Viking metal and enough melody (think Amon Amarth's style) to really keep you hooked. Opening with some symphonic elements and heavy riffs that give way to quick, melodic guitar work, we are soon treated to the growls of Theys. His black metal style vocals remind me of Vorph from Samael combined with Jari Maenpaa formerly of Ensiferum. The band's sound also sometimes reminds me of these bands with their combination of some electronic/synthesized elements as well as traditional folk instruments. This is followed by the excellent North Sea; it has a very Viking feeling to it and the folk elements are blended with the guitar riffing perfectly. The vocals are a mixture of clean singing by Theys plus the usual growls. The clean vocals help lend the song a melancholy feel at times, along with some slower, wailing guitars. This is a song that actually makes you feel like you're going on an epic sea voyage. Lindisfarne (Anno 793) also has this same epic sound, but has more of a tone of urgency and dread. One thing I notice is that all the songs are different, but mostly in the same style: mid to fast-paced anthems that blast through the speakers with fast guitar riffing and heavy double-bass drumming along with the growls of Theys. The last song I want to mention is On Golden Fields, which starts out with big, chunky riffs that sound like soldiers running into battle. The symphonic elements and massive drums make it sound even more epic as the song just rolls forward without stopping. Also, the guitar work of Erik Sprooten and Jan Yrlund is fantastic, as it has been for the entire album. For those of you who like big, epic soundscapes, this is definitely for you.

I doubt that many who enjoy Folk and Viking metal have missed out on this, but for those who have not heard it, go get it. If you are interested in this style but haven’t heard much, this album is an excellent place to start in exploring this diverse genre. I have always liked folk influenced metal and hearing this has really been a breath of fresh air, even though it came out nine years ago. I am still dumbfounded that I have not heard these guys before, but I will definitely be checking out more of this band's discography. I can definitely see people in the future looking back and regarding this as a classic Viking/Folk metal album.

Killing Songs :
Exile (Les Litanies De Satan), ...And The Horns Called For War, North Sea, On Golden Fields (De Leeuwen Dansen)
Khelek quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Ancient Rites that we have reviewed:
Ancient Rites - Laguz reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Ancient Rites - Rubicon reviewed by Crims and quoted 92 / 100
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