Rochester has a plethora of incredibly talented metal bands and Ancalagon are no exception. Formed in 2013, Ancalagon offer a unique brand of melodic black metal, rich was tasteful guitar leads and harmonies, delicious reverb soaked raspy vocals, punishing riffs and quick to the kill drumming.
Their latest release, Gateway Specter, delivers 9 ultra aggressive, yet serenading melodic black metal masterpieces that secure Ancalagon’s rightful place of genre recognition alongside bands like Dissection, or even Windir.
For fans of this genre who like to “dive right in”, don’t be fooled by the intro track, “Lugburz”. This song provides a calm before the storm in the form of spacey “Egyptian” sounding clean guitars, groovy drums and distant/haunting screams. I was taken back by it at first, but it’s the ideal set up for the next track, “The Order of Pharazon the Cruel”, which just explodes into crushing vocals over some phenomenal fretwork. The riffs in “Pharazon” showcase most of what Ancalagon has to offer on this album and connect several different emotions together throughout the course of the song. Most of this is due to the consistent swaying back and forth of various melodies in a classic 3/4 time signature. Yet, even during this band’s “pretty parts”, you can’t help bob your head with your metal claw at full flex.
Gateway Specter never lets up and remains steadfast from start to finish. Ancalagon’s songs are all as insanely catchy as they are dark and devious. Check out the intro riff in track 6, “Goddess of the Unlight”. Just this one riff comes packed with evil harmonies, murderous tremolo picking, vicious blast beats and some of the most powerful sounding vocals on the album. While, track 8, “Screams of the Shining Wolf”, kicks off with some soothing doom, complete with a very enchanting and complimentary guitar overlay. It then heads into more overwhelming darkness and despair, gripping the listener by their throat and never letting go until the last note.
The final song, “Inhabitant” seems to have the most “metal” beginning. It’s an ideal album closer in this right. Fantastic hammer-on littered fretwork caves in under the weight of some very impressive tapping, followed by a blistering, whammy bar assisted squeal, right into some of the best death/thrash combo riffing on the record. A lot of these introductory guitar parts and feels return throughout the song in various forms, crafting the most melodically adventurous piece of music out of all 9 songs.
My top tracks on this album are by far, “The Order of Pharazon the Cruel”, “Goddess of the Unlight” and “Inhabitant”. Gateway Specter was released in June of 2017 and is available at Ancalagon‘s live shows, as well as on their Bandcamp. Check out a sample of the music below and don’t you dare sleep on these guys for a second longer!