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If there was ever a perfect time for Ancient Rites to release to release a live album, then it would be now, following the release of DIM CARCOSA (second best album ever...see my review in the archives). For years, Ancient Rites have slugged it out through the underground and for the past few years have been utterly unstoppable. Without a doubt, Ancient Rites is the ultimate black metal band; melodic guitars with fast, tight riffs, and a pummelling battery of drums drives the music forward, while the keyboards round out the epic side of the 666% true metal sound. Mastermind Gunther Theys and co. exemplify everything that metal stands for.
What better place to record and Ancient Rites live show than in their home nation of Belgium? The participation of the crowd at the gig is absolutely electrifying, as is reflected in the bands performance, which is excellent, played with a geniune passion for metal. Recorded on June 14, 2002 at the Biebob club, AND THE HORNS STOOD AS ONE is a testament to Ancient Rites legacy. The sound quality is very good, still a professional soundboard job, but not as clearly produced as most live albums. This adds the slight edge that Ancient Rites’ sound requires, and highlights the truly live nature of this recording. The setlist does a fair job spanning the band’s career, centered most heavily on the band’s previous two albums, FATHERLAND, and DIM CARCOSA. 16 tracks presenting over 78 minutes of music is plenty of time for most live albums, but I’m a greedy Ancient Rites head and I wouldn’t mind a double CD release at all. Although the setlist contains just about every Ancient Rites song one could want, I’m slightly disappointed that “Dying in a Moment of Splendor,” from FATHERLAND wasn’t on there, nor were there enough old songs (“Satanic Rejoice,” anyone?). Obviously, the crowd was pleased nearly as much or more than I am judging by the crowd response and Gunther’s interaction.
In addition to a wonderful setlist, the packaging is absolutely beautifully done. The art, done by guitarist Jan Yrlund, perfectly fits the album, with the torches, pentagramed portculllis, and goat-headed figure fill out this very metal scene. In the booklet proper are some very nice photos of the band onstage, as well as multiple pages of background information and commentary on Gunther himself. Reading through the book, I am filled with respect for the scholarship and true metal nature of Gunther. Not only is he metal at heart, but he is quite intelligent and has a definite knack for European history and litterature. AND THE HORDES STOOD AS ONE is absolutely essential for every Ancient Rites fan, and those new to Ancient Rites might enjoy this one as well. All hail Gunther and Ancient Rites!
(originally written by me for www.metal-rules.com, March, 2003)