Sunday, 13 March 2016

Album Review: Occultation "Silence in the Ancestral House" reviewed by Dave Wolff

Band: Occultation
Album: Silence in the Ancestral House
Released: October 14, 2014
Label: Profound Lore
Genre: Dark metal
Location: New York City
Reviewed by: Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Intro
2. The First Of The Last
3. Laughter In The Halls Of Madness
4. All Hallows Fire
5. The Place Behind The Sky
6. The Dream Tide
7. Intermission
8. Forever Hereafter
9. Silence In The Ancestral House

When I heard of this band and their range of influences I jumped at the chance to review it, feeling suddenly inspired by the fact that the city still produces creative and innovative bands. There will always be bands that push the envelope of what metal bands can do with their songwriting and find new directions. Of Beauty And Madness was the last band I heard of that incorporated several genres into a sound to exclusively call their own. Occultation do the same on their 2014 full length Silence In The Ancestral House. I noticed the production is quite raw, indicating Occultation are at an early developmental stage. Or they chose to produce this with a certain amount of rawness to contribute to its effect. Either way the production presents a motif similar to raw black metal, which makes you feel you’re opening a forgotten centuries-old crypt and observing what’s inside through a thick haze. Add atmosphere and elements of punk, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, goth rock, 70s occult rock and traditional metal and the result is something truly eclectic arranged in a manner you wouldn’t expect. Think of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath and mid-80s era Voivod meeting through a time warp; even then you’re just beginning to conceptualize what this band is capable of. The surreal cover art also gives an impression of what to expect here but you really have to listen firsthand. The album was produced by Kurt Ballou who previously worked with Converge; this band proved a new experience given their diverse aspects. Silence In The Ancestral House begins with a bizarre intro; its circus like atmosphere gives way to an acoustic guitar passage similar to Testament. Then this haunting female voice kicks in. and by now you know you’re in for an otherworldly experience. And this is just an intro to the rest of the album. Over the next eight tracks you’re taken on a journey through unearthly landscapes and unexplored ethereal planes that might make those thought up by Pink Floyd seem a walk in the park. There are so many mood changes throughout this recording you’ll feel you had traveled longer and farther than you would have dared. The raw production I mentioned earlier works for many of these tunes but on future recordings I’d like to hear something more polished in that department.

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