The Halls of Eternity
You know you’ve found an extreme microcosm when black metal bands like Cradle of Filth and Ancient — both bands, in the grand scheme of music, of strictly limited and alienating appeal — are considered “mainstream.” Which brings us to Ancient’s newest platter, The Halls of Eternity . Lacking the hilariously “evil” cover of their previous album, Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends , Ancient’s latest album finds the band more or less sticking to their swords, the band racing through a black metal heavy on gothic atmosphere and tremeloed melody. Quite the common plague of many black metal bands, Ancient convincingly thrashes at slower tempos but sounds completely washed out when the blastbeats predictably enter the picture; wisely, the band relies more on the former, picking up its fullest head of steam during Iron Maiden-esque victory gallops. At the end of the day, though, The Halls of Eternity will never scrape any mainstream-inclined sales chart.
Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com