Well, apart from "The Cainian Chronicle" ANCIENT never really have appealed to me in the past, so "Proxima Centauri" had not exactly been the most eagerly awaited album for me. But I have to say that this without doubt is the strongest piece of Black metal that the guys (and lady) around front-demon Aphazel have created so far.
The cover somehow seems to be inspired by VOI VOD, this strange skull/head-like thing in the lower part of the cover looks like a mixture from Aphazel's corpsepaint and the Voi Vod during its "War And Pain"-era... Musically, though, you cannot compare them in the least, because basically there haven't been any major changes in the sound of the Norwegians, which now, after a brief stint in the USA, reside in Italy.
But what it is that they had lacked before and now have, I don't have the slightest notion, but one thing is a fact, I like "Proxima Centauri", why ever. What is evident in the compositions is that they almost exclusively are very powerful and voluminous, thanks to the Los Angered Studio, and they also in most cases don't use any blastbeats, instead there are pleasingly many double-bass, which, in my opinion, are still producing more power than all blasts of this world combined.
By entwining calmer and slower passages the blackhearts also create nice dynamics within their songs, keeping up the tension that non-stop high-speed-blasting never could. The vocals are pretty rough, but never screeching or unnerving in a different way, but really suiting the music, the passages in which Deadly Kristin is lending her voice are rather few, but they, too, add to the variability. Additionally the Norwegians are using some traditional sounding elements into their music, but without flirting with the still ongoing True/Power Metal-wave.
As check-out-tips I'll hand out "The Ancient Horadrim", then my personal favourite, the very powerful "Satan's Children" and the more than nine-minute-long epos "Incarnating The Malignant Deity", but the rest also is worth checking out. "Proxima Centauri", for me an absolutely positive surprise!