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Wolven Ancestry - Silence Of The Boreal (7,5/10) - Canada - 2009

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Archaic North Records
Playing time: 50:27
Band homepage: Wolven Ancestry

Tracklist:

  1. The True North…
  2. Silence Of The Boreal
  3. The Animistic Awakening
  4. Memories Of Life Forgotten With Time
  5. A Trail Of Blood In The Snow
  6. Hymn For The Fallen
  7. March Forth Under Tortured Skies
  8. Codex Canadiensis
  9. The Bering Descent
Wolven Ancestry - Silence Of The Boreal

EMPEROR is often cited as the chief instigator in the Symphonic wing of the Black Metal paradigm, and in some cases the now cliché musical idioms that made up “Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk” are so overt amongst younger bands that questions of identity arise. This trend was largely started soon after the aforementioned and widely criticized sophomore effort of the Norwegian pioneers by another band from the same area and time period who rose to greater commercial prominence, DIMMU BORGIR, namely with the polished, heavily Symphonic release “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. The one principle difference that arose out of DIMMU’s side of the style was a more restrained, almost classicist approach to songwriting. Ihsahn’s wild epics, though very mystifying, are still pretty well out of the realm of mainstream consumption, even in today’s world where some types of Black Metal have become acceptable amongst the masses.

 

WOLVEN ANCESTRY falls pretty comfortably into the DIMMU BORGIR variant on EMPEROR’s original formula on “Silence Of The Boreal”, putting catchy thematic material just one step above the intricacies of the style. The melodies are a bit less triumphant than what is often heard out of mainline melodic Death bands, but the same easily comprehended patterns emerge on most of the full length songs. The production is a bit less click-driven and modern than “In Sorte Diaboli” and vocalist Lord Defiler is just a little closer to Ihsahn’s blackened mutterings and shrieks than Shagrath, but a very similar sense of simplicity and predictability emerges in the riff work and speed drumming. It’s a bit frostier and darker in character than the MTV friendly hipster bands that are too busy mocking the style to pay homage to its roots, but it is definitely a far cry from the bone chilling, blood freezing woefulness heard between 1993 and 1995 in the Scandinavian area.

 

With a few notable exceptions, this unfolds as a strictly “by the numbers” melodic album, as one song pretty consistently blends into the next. Memory retention isn’t much of a problem with any of these songs as the melodic material is pretty familiar, especially for anyone already familiar with middle era DIMMU BORGIR and early era CHILDREN OF BODOM. “An Animistic Awakening” and “Codex Canadiensis” particularly draw upon more of a modern feel, though they get a little more adventurous with riff development. The real disappointment here is that like many other bands in this style, in addition to abandoning the heavily raw production practices, these guys also threw out the virtuosic guitar soloing practices set up by IMMORTAL and even practice by more simplistic outfits such as DARKTHRONE and SAYTRICON. But interestingly enough, the two short instrumental interludes are where the band starts to shine. “Hymn For The Fallen” is a nice, charming little acoustic Folk number that would work nice if incorporated into their otherwise textbook Symphonic approach. Likewise, the opening prelude “The True North…” has a really fluid character to it, literally as if the cold landscapes of the Yukon and the Aurora Borealis were captured in the Symphonic medium.

 

This isn’t the greatest thing I’ve heard in this style, even if only focusing on the modern extremes of Symphonic Black Metal, but it is definitely entertaining and well accomplished. The title song and “The Bering Descent” definitely capture that atmospherically serene, yet chaotically evil character that made EMPEROR’s middle era so popular, albeit without nearly the same level of technical mastery and musical adventurism. It’s just a slight step above DIMMU’s last couple studio efforts, and will likely sit well with just about everyone who is into said band, minus the old school oriented fans who only liked their first two studio efforts. Wolves, frozen and snow-covered landscapes, and some otherworldly phenomenon going on in the night sky are fairly cliché images for this approach, but a proper delivery can make all the difference between being solid and being generic, and WOLVEN ANCESTRY leans more towards the former.

(Online November 1, 2009)

Jonathan Smith



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