Album Review: Arde – Ancestral Cult

Album Review: Arde - Ancestral Cult
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Forging a sophomore release is never easy. Berlin based Arde have extended their tentacles creatively and dynamically with their follow up to 2018’s ‘Wolves of Hades’. In ‘Ancestral Cult’ they have created an atmospheric soundscape which perfectly matches the album themes – a dedication to ancient cults about goddesses and the female figure that holds the central place in many ancestral cultures.

There may only be five songs on the album, but apart from the beautifully crafted centrepiece ‘Síle’, composed and performed by Amelia Baker from Cinder Well, the tracks are all weighty epics that shift from darkness to light, in shimmering blasts of unadulterated black metal.

It’s evident in the visceral delivery throughout the album that addressing the struggle of women over time is a subject which is a source of frustration and anger. The songs weave their way in an organic fashion, sweeping waves of tremolo riffs echo as the harrowing screams of vocalist Kato rage and spew forth with a dramatic flourish.

Album Review: Arde - Ancestral Cult

Each track takes on a life of its own, sitting both independently as well as cohesively within the album. From the intro of the opening song, ‘The Birth Portal’, through to the closing bars of ‘Vesica Piscis’, ‘Ancestral Cult’ is captivating and harrowing in equal measure. Frantic rhythmic segments are underpinned by subtle melodies that hid timidly and yet contribute massively to the overall flavours and emotions that are evoked during the 36 minutes.

‘Síle’ may only be 1:33, but it is an uplifting, almost ethereal piece that acts as a pivot between the first and second acts. It’s a poignant opportunity for breath, a tendril that casts Mother Nature centre stage, providing much needed respite.

Released on cassette, CD, and vinyl, it’s an album that fans of Fen, Wolves in the Throne Room and Alda amongst others should definitely explore.

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