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Burning for the Ancient Review

Having cemented themselves firmly in the midst of the continually developing Pacific Northwestern black metal scene alongside local titans such as Skagos, Alda, Fauna and others, Addaura have recently released a searing follow up to 2010’s excellent self-titled demo. In a clear but functional egress from the typical themes of being within and experiencing flurried snow, furious rivers and timeless forests, Burning for the Ancient comes across as a rumination on the frustrations of miserable city life and the pining to return to the simpler roots of an era lost to the sands of time. Dig it.

Read the rest of this review after the jump!

As is starting to become a staple for the region’s black metal, the album’s opening track could easily be confused with a noise or prog rock band along the lines implodes or Junius if you had no idea what you were listening to, and I personally have no problem with that. There will always be those ready to decry things as ‘un-trve’, but the semi-permeable membrane between musical genres is a crucial safeguard against stagnation. As much controversy as the use of the internet-born ‘cascadian black metal’ moniker stirs, there’s no denying that there’s a very nebulous emerging set of defining traits that many of these bands experimenting with local folk and post-rock tinged black metal rising out of the Northwest are beginning to share, and it works well for Addaura here. The aptly titled City Light has a magnificent sense of soft buildup before the vicious drums, droning guitars and wailing shrieks rip it all to pieces.

Stylistically, this is a much less ‘raw’ album than 2010’s initial demo production wise, but the fresh coat of polish doesn’t hamper the band’s first full length once you come to terms with the fact that Burning for the Ancient doesn’t sound a whole lot like the previous release. Also notably absent is Addaura’s female vocalist, the ambiguously credited ‘Chantal’, whose hoarse howling gave the demo a particularly emotional ‘oomph’. The vocals on BFTA, now split amongst three of the group’s members, never quite manage to reach the standout heights of their initial endeavor.

That isn’t to say that the revamped groans and growls don’t stand on their own – there’s a particularly pleading and animalistic quality about them that seems to echo the Ginsberg-esque dissatisfaction with an increasingly industrialized world that I believe this album’s title is an homage to. Of all the black metal currently rising from the ancient forests of the Cascadian bioregion, this is the first I’ve heard that has an air of urbanity reaching out into the natural world about it – Burning for the Ancient reflects the sense yearning for life amidst a sea of drab grey buildings and empty faces; of the hollow unfulfillment of city living and the desire for an escape from it.

BFTA‘s near relentless blast beats are dotted with catchy riffs and the occasional solemn acoustic interlude, though each song’s run-time over the 10 minute mark makes it difficult to point to individual moments of greatness. Though a clear departure from the only previous work they’ve given us to go off of, BFTA is well worth the spin or two it may take to warm up to it. Kill the lights, kindle some candles, pour yourself some wine, and let Burning for the Ancient‘s hypnotic drone be your soundtrack to contemplating the futility of modern human existence.



  1. Sean

    March 12, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Looking forward to hearing this

  2. Jesse

    March 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Actually, Ryan does all the vocals. I think I saw on some website (encyclopedia metallum?) that we all did vocals…untrue.

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