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'Blackened Battle Metal' is a superior melodic death metal EP. To get the negatives out of the way first, the only issue I had with this EP is lack of bass. It gives the whole thing a flatter sound and really hurts the low end. Ancient Wind doesn't seem to be ignorant of this fact, as their facebook page clearly states they are seeking a bass player. Yet going through their page it seems they have been heavily active for at least a year, which considering they are missing a key component I must give them props. That kind of work ethic will only help them in the future.There are also a few timing issues, which may be due to lack of recording time versus the band's playing ability. Yet the pros of this disc heavily outweigh the cons as I will explain below.
The album opener 'Northern Conquest' is a real titan of a song. Opening with standard but catchy melodic death harmonies it quickly turns into a thrash anthem, complete with gang vocals and a very NWOBHM influenced rhythm and solo section. Yet the song and indeed all the tracks here are never completely thrash, nor thankfully are they ever completely anything. This band has found a very good formula for blending melodic death metal and thrash together seamlessly, while also adding a good amount of black metal as evidenced by the second track 'Frost of the Ancients'. They make good use of Immortal like melodic stop and go's here, while another phenomenal solo section changes the tone nicely. The drummers ability is on display best here, and while he isn't the most technical drummer out there by any means, he makes up for it with thrash precision and a good command of the double bass. He even has a few 'WOW' moments such as the fill right before the choruses of this track.
'Eaters of the Dead' may be the most simple track, but it is by far the most catchy. The singers effortless ability to switch between high black metal shrieks and his signature Amon Amarth and Behemoth like low growl is impressive to say the least. While brutal I like how the vocals still manage to be clean enough to efficiently understand most of the lyrics. Another high note in this song is the phenomenal solo and rhythm section, reminding me of Iron Maidens' glory days and proving that these two guitarist have great command of their instruments. This can also be heard in the above par finisher that is 'The Gjallarhorn Sounds'. While at well over nine minutes this track never leaves you bored or wandering. From dark and slow grooves to blistering melodic death this song has something for everyone, and above all else showcases the band's diverse catalog of influences in one song.
It's amazing what you can find bored at three o'clock in the morning, mindlessly wandering around YouTube. This is a great find, and while this EP is in no way a masterpiece, it is highly listenable and has given me a band to watch closely. I have the feeling that given a bassist and recording studio these guys may just turn out something truly epic.