Published Oct 17, 2016The problem with progressive metal is that it is either transcendent or insufferable, and the line between these two extremes can be razor-thin. Exquisite, free-form exploration can devolve into self-indulgent noodling in the span of a heart beat, and it requires constant vigilance to ensure that one is always on the right end of these unforgiving scales. In 2013, Canadian progressive death metal dealers Anciients proved that they were more than capable of managing the titanic slabs of sound they conjured up, releasing the complicated but deeply satisfying Heart of Oak, an intellectual album driven nonetheless by heart.
Voice of the Void, a significant step forward even from that very strong start, finds the band digging even deeper into emotional territory while simultaneously embracing the progressive complexity that served them well on their debut effort. They wear their influences on their sleeve, and with deep respect; Voice of the Void recalls Mastodon, especially circa Crack the Skye and Blood Mountain, in the titanic vastness that it calls up as well as the unexpected, deeply moving points of light amid all the heaviness. "Buried in Sand" is a momentous, undulating track, like a desert breathing; "My Home, My Gallows" swirls into a soul-gripping throb. The clean vocals employed throughout the record are shockingly good and incredibly moving, creating all these heart-wrenching little moments whenever the record might have otherwise veered into being too cerebral.
For those hungry for some standout riffs, "Ibex Eye" delivers in all its stoner glory, aggressive, thickly distorted and driving. If you were impressed by Heart of Oak, Voice of the Void is going to leave you speechless. (Season of Mist)