|Ancient Rites - Fatherland
02. Mother Europe
05. Season's Change (Solstice)
06. 13th Of October 1307
07. Dying In A Moment Of Splendour
08. Rise And Fall (Anno Satana)
09. The Seducer
11. Fallen Angel [Japanese bonus]
12. From Beyond The Grave [Japanese bonus]
I have to admit that I'm not a Black Metal specialist but there is something I pretty much figured out all by myself: Ancient Rites is not mainstream Black Metal. Far from the "purists" [Mayhem, Darkthrone, Immortal, ...] and also very different from the "symphonists" [Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, ...], Ancient Rites belongs to a different group of bands, the one that loves the sound of clean guitars and solos just like in Heavy or Power Metal, without sacrificing the bases of Black Metal. The result could be labeled as Power Black Metal or something like that. Well, that's probably why I just like that talented band that much!
Now another surprising fact about Ancient Rites is that there are from Belgium, where they've been leader of the BM underground before being universally recognized in other countries. 'Fatherland' is their third album and fulfilled all my expectancies. Here is why...
The whole record is full of inventive compositions, filled with breathtaking guitar solos. Nevertheless, one of the best aspect of Ancient Rites' music is the voice of Gunther Theys, which transforms lyrics into atmospheric vibes and without screaming like a agonizing tortured beast. The keys contribute to that dark atmosphere as well, which spreads throughout the entire album. But no need to hide the fact that the guitars lines are so beautifully that it is the actually the number one advantage of 'Fatherland'. Just listen to the title track and you'll understand what I mean. So far, it's the only Black Metal band that I know that introduced these epic guitars lines in their music [apart from the side-project Diabolical Masquerade...], and honestly, I would love to hear that more often.
My favorites are definitely 'Mother Europe', 'Aris' and 'Fatherland' [what a chorus!!], even if it's really hard to skip any track on that album because of the catchy introductions on each song [but especially on the tracks 'Dying In A Moment Of Splendour' and '13th Of October 1307']. Plus, the album starts with a very nice instrumental ['Avondland'] and ends with a splendid piano requiem ['Cain']. Then, if you're lucky [or rich] enough to get the Japanese version of 'Fatherland', you would get two extra tracks. The first one, 'Fallen Angel', is a short ambient track, close to 'Cain' in fact. The second one, 'From Beyond the Grave', is a good one but isn't reaching the best performances on the album.
To sum things up, 'Fatherland' is a darn good album, innovative, atmospheric, heavy, dark and melodic! In one word: creative. And if that is what you're looking for, it is your duty to listen to that album, whether you're into Black Metal or not.