Ancient Wind
The Chosen Slain

The release schedule is usually pretty quiet at the beginning of the year. Wisely, most bands wait until the dust settles on the year that has just passed, before dishing up a new album. So traditionally it’s a slower period, with a sizable chunk of listening time reserved for bygone classics and catch-up releases.  However, bucking the trend during the first couple of months of 2015, already a number of quality gems and bigger releases have dropped and thus the task of lower key bands making an impact becomes increasingly difficult. Enter Colorado’s Ancient Wind,  a relatively new act with just an EP under their spiked belts prior to the bloodthirsty juggernaut of blackened melodic death-thrash the band confidently execute on their full length debut, entitled The Chosen Slain.

The Chosen Slain is an aggressive, no frills album that despite its shortcomings certainly does an excellent job of getting the adrenaline pumping and the head banging sufficiently. The band successfully mesh genre styles into a cohesive and straightforward package of battle metal fury, comprised of galloping tempos, shreds of euro-styled melody and fiery riffs delivered with raw, barbaric intensity.  While they may stick to a fairly stock standard formula heavily indebted to the mighty Amon Amarth, Ancient Wind offers enough variety and epic battle anthems to mostly avoid monotony and appease the avid listeners of this style. The riffs are solid and occasionally noteworthy, while the ample leads peppering the album are executed with surprising finesse and inventiveness, such as the triumphant soloing that highlights chugging opener “Blood of the Saxons”. Most of all, the band’s energy is incredibly infectious which goes some way towards propping up the album’s weaker points.

So while the aggro, drama fuelled bite of “Walk an Endless Path” and pummelling urgency of closer “Death without Absolution” are solid tunes that drag on too long, elsewhere more concise offerings like the infectiously thrashy “Take Back the Pit” and gritty blackened surge of “With Hate in their Eyes“ benefit from their slightly stripped back lengths, packing strong ideas into concise timeframes without sacrificing the epic feel of the material. The ripping, bloodthirsty gallop of “Brothers of War” is another finer example of what Ancient Wind is capable of when they hit their stride.

As much fun as The Chosen Slain is to listen to, ultimately the effects aren’t particularly memorable or lasting. Ancient Wind fall victim to the irritating trend of modern metal bands overstaying their welcome. Although the album length is only 47 minutes, individually some of the eight tracks generally don’t offer enough interesting elements and quality riffage to justify their bloated lengths. Many bands are simply not being ruthless enough during the self-editing process and the overall album impact is lessened as a result. Another troubling issue I have with the album is in regards to the production. The sound is crisp and clear but seriously lacking in dynamics and low-end muscle, reducing the power of the raw aggression and energy the band applies to their work.

When it comes to the crunch Ancient Wind plays a feisty and solid style of blackened death-thrash that is enjoyable on the short term, well executed and highly listenable. Unfortunately in the crowded fields of modern metal, at this point in their young career Ancient Wind doesn’t yet have the song-writing chops or enough fresh ideas to compete with the big guns. Still with the potential on display perhaps they are a band worth keeping an eye on.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
April 1st, 2015

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