Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Albion Codex - Summon the Ancients (2013) | 65%

Union Jack Prog/Psych Metal pt. 1: Empty Book

The Albion Codex is a British quartet who's playing a mix of progressive metal/rock with epic doom and other different influences. While I liked their debut album, it still has clear flaws that made Summon the Ancient an underwhelming release. Although their compositions have many intricate layers, their compositions are too complicated for their own sake. That's unfortunate but I think that's a fault they can correct for their future releases.

The five songs are all pretty long, three of them are reaching the nine minutes mark and even if I'm usually a fan of extended compositions, I don't think it works here. Mostly because of the way the songs are composed, the transitions are pretty awful, Mikael Akerfeldt is really a master composer compared to that. The heavy to soft progressions are far from natural and in my opinion, they're not helping the bands. There's simply too many things tried at once and as newcomers, they don't have the necessary skills to pull it off nicely. Furthermore, it gave me the impression that the band is directionless. A good example is actually the first track ''Witch in the Mist'', the first half is pretty good but when there's the softer transitions, it fucked up the rhythm  That's the case for pretty much all the record. Being progressive doesn't mean that you can mash up many different genres together with crazy glue, it's about melting them to form a solid, condensed and listenable mixture that has diverse feelings.

The production is decent while not heavy enough, maybe it's the atmospheric approach but the band is a doom unit nonetheless and I expected harder hitting guitars. A bit like countrymen Solstice who can be epic, doom and atmospheric with ease. It fits the softer side of the band better than their heavier since I'm not a fan of the electric guitars tone. The title track is quite fast and almost remind me of the first two The Sword albums with its stoner vibe. That's of course before the clean break towards the middle. Believe me, I like clean and soft music breaks when it's done appropriately and not forced unto the listeners like pancakes when you ordered eggs.

Influenced by Opeth and Porcupine Tree, Paul Wale has a nice clean and melodic voice similar to Steven Wilson sometimes. They're not quite powerful but he's also one of the guitarists and it's totally fine for their sound. I always liked the English accent in my doom metal and it's no exception. What doesn't work though are the harsh vocals, they're completely out of place and they seem to be present only to give the band an edgier sound. While not awful, they're not convincing, not well written and useless. They're not even often present in the songs but they're an unnecessary flaw. Hopefully they'll be gone from their future releases.

Psychedelic, stoner, epic doom, progressive or acoustic, The Albion Codex managed to mix interesting genres together but they lack the conviction and skills to make it truly enjoyable. Instead you get a forty five minutes album that drags too much. The band still has some cool riffs and they're talented, I think there's a certain lack of leads though. I thoroughly enjoyed the six minutes ballad ''Swordwielder'' because it was entirely soft and has this fun fantasy medieval feel. The band is good at both doom and atmospheric prog but when it's mixed in the same song, it's like eating chocolate bacon

Despite some flaws, I'll await a sophomore since the goods were delivered and it's a mix of genres I like. I hope they'll have a more condensed and established personality. I suggest to the fans of the aforementioned bands to check them out, it might calm your hunger for progressive whatever doom metal for two or three weeks. Summon the Ancient has a superb cover and it's showing a band that has a lot of potential, only the future will tell us if they can make a name for themselves.

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