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Overloaded - 65%

Felix 1666, December 7th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Metal Blade Records (Digipak)

Sorry for being the notorious grumbler, but I normally don´t like so-called full-lengths that last less than 30 minutes. (Needless to say, "Reign in Blood" is the exception.) But at the same time, I fear albums with a playtime of more than 60 minutes. These overlong products only very rarely deliver a compact overall impression. What is worse, most "monumental" works include some more or less unnecessary tunes that reduce its quality. This is exactly what happened in the case of "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends".

Ancient had tried to design highly varied songs. You are confronted with a lot of tempo changes, breaks, different voices, (too much) keyboard sounds and so on. While having received an unmistakable gothic infusion, they still played black metal. The songwriting had its ups and downs. The band would have been well-advised to reject some of the songs. In terms of quantity, nobody would have had a reason to complain about an album with a length of 40 minutes. But Ancient apparently wanted to impress by quantity and they were painfully consistent. For example, they did not eshew to deliver a senseless sound collage which directly followed a calm and harmless instrumental. The result was that the listeners were confronted with six minutes of boredom. This running order served as an indication for an immature concept. But the principal mistake was, that too many of the "complete" songs lacked of coherence and catchiness. Ten seconds after having listened to tracks like "Hecate, My Love and Lust", you will not be able to remember a single note. Who knows, perhaps this was the intention in view of the crummy composition? To draw an interim conclusion: due to its fillers, this third album marked the worst record of Ancient´s discography so far.

Nevertheless, the band was too strong to produce a really disappointing or even miserable full-length. Due to their compositional skills, the band members were able to showcase some gripping tunes with electrifying moments. These tracks had in common that they combined up-tempo parts with relatively dramatic melodies. Furthermore, lead vocalist Kaiaphas added value because of his slightly insane screeching. As a result, songs such as "A Mad Blood Scenario" or "The Emerald Tablet" knew to convince because of their infectious atmosphere and their exceptionally aggressive approach. The songwriting went hand in hand with the production that also left room for optimization. Apart from its low level of transparency, especially the drums lacked a bit of power.

From my point of view, Aphazel, who also produced the album, and his bandmates were over ambitious. They dissipated their energies in order to create outstanding and exceptional compositions. This focus made them lose sight of the fundamentals. Therefore, this album left an ambivalent impression.

Complete with cape and faux Romanian accent - 37%

autothrall, October 4th, 2012

Ancient took a wrong turn around 1995-96 when Aphazel decided it was in his interests to channel his inner blood sucker and pursue a course of black metal vampirism not unlike what England's Cradle of Filth and their coattail riders Hecated Enthroned were doing around the same time. Svartalheim had been a pretty solid album, crude and atmospheric but possessing a lot of those primal charms attributed to their various countrymen in the early 90s; it's not well liked, but I honestly don't think the Norwegians have trumped it yet. The Cainian Chronicle, their first record for Metal Blade Records, brought on the wampyr themes, and it's pretty clear to me that someone in this band was heavy into Anne Rice and the pen & paper RPG Vampire the Maquerade ("The Cainian Chronicle", "Malkavian Twilight", etc). Not that a well written game like that is bad source material for lyrics and music, but Ancient manages to transform its fanged obsessions into a laughable parody in place of a sound that might have us jumping at shadows after sunset...

The problem is they just go too far with this formula, and as the result Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends sounds more like an album that creepy circle of incestuous Goth-friends at your high school would write as they share awful poetry with one another, whine about missing the latest Type O Negative gig and paraphrase bland guitar riffs from better bands. The cover itself looks like a lazy garden party attempt to impersonate Cradle of Filth, but what truly sinks this record into the shitter is the use of the various narrative voices that make it impossible to take seriously. With the exception of the two instrumentals wedged deeper into the disc, each original piece is drowned in cheesy Romanticism that comes off like some ghetto interpretation of Lord Byron, Edgar Allen Poe and William Wordsworth, another trait that reminds me a hell of a lot of Dani Filth and his band; only they have traditionally proven far more competent in how they craft their lyrics. Lines like 'bleeding from my lovelorn scars' and 'thou art the answer to all my dreams'. Sure, there's some variation throughout the album, with surprises like the lush and fetching instrumental "Neptune", the tribal piece "5" with its maddened cavalcade of whispers and percussion, and a version of Mercyful Fate's "Black Funeral" which plays it pretty close to the original in terms of pitch and performance, but those are really the beginning and end of its qualities...

Let's be clear: without the lamentably lame vocals and 'character' interactions, Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends would at least be a work of mediocrity with a few appreciable traits like the drumming, which blasts quite firmly where needed and is comparable with other Scandinavian outfits of the period. The only caveat was that there were some sequences in which the kick sounded like my washing machine when it acts up due to overload. The guitar riffs are often just 2-3 chords boringly cycled through predictable architecture, but I have to admit the airy leads and melodies would have been quite nice over a more interesting rhythm section. Keys are your typical haunted house dressings, and I'm sure the band thought they were quite 'eloquent' and 'profound' alongside the lyrics, but they incorporate pianos, clean guitars and even a cello to good effect here. In fact, the production on this album definitely places it in that mid 90s era where bands were tripping over themselves to leap onto the back of the turnip-wagon that was toting Emperor, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir off to their own respective destinies at the forefront of this genre. But at the same time, it reeks of desperation and creative despoilment, and as if Ancient processed its music too quickly and didn't think of any long term effects or consequences, so unlike In the Nightside Eclipse, Dusk and Her Embrace, or even Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, it doesn't feel timeless...just silly.

A huge part of this is the vocal interplay between Aphazel and Erichte, the latter of whom sounds incredibly bored as she recites her lines through pieces like "The Emerald Tablet" or "Willothewisp", even when she spins a little aggression into her inflection. Hearing these sorts of lines in a call and response with Aphazel's gnarled, Filth-like snarl is goofy enough, but when he refrains particular lines through the album it just becomes a chore, and when he screams lines like 'HAIL SATANIC WITCH!' or 'copulation grins upon my face, as we cum all over this fuckin' place', I can't help but start laughing, as unintentional as the humor might have been when they were writing this. At some level, I suppose the lyrics about love after death, worship of the pale female Gothic form and loads of cliches about moons, wolves, and ravens are suitable to the theme, but Ancient never does anything truly interesting with its material. There's also a lack of total commitment to these vampiric concepts, since "Um Sonho Psycodelico" is a strange piece about inhaling and popping drugs and hallucinogens, and "Her Northern Majesty" is a strange Norwegian pride track you'd have expected more from a band like Satyricon. Azaphel also lapses into these fits of Gothic narrative vocals that render the record even more awkward, as in "Blackeyes" where his voice echoes out over these groovier epic heavy metal riffs...

Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends needed about a year's additional development, and perhaps an outside producer to wade through the heaps of cheesy bullshit and convince Azaphel (who handled this duty here) that perhaps some of his ideas weren't that great. Had those conditions been met, then we might have ended up with a decent, middling black metal record with a few moments of elegant, stereotypical Transylvanian atmosphere that might be fun to break out every other Halloween while we bob for apples. As is, this is a ludicrous failure with an appeal only for its unintended humor or to those L'estats and Pandoras who stopped monitoring the progress of the world after about 1995. The weak selection of guitar riffs simply cannot compensate for how agonizingly awkward everything else feels. A good gag reel, sure, but a poor black metal album.


It's really not that bad - 70%

Nokturrnus, August 22nd, 2011

I have read several reviews on this album and most of them were negative. I know this album may not be, what a true black metal fan expects, but in my opinion (and I know that most of you will disagree) it's not that bad.

Kaiaphas is great black metal vocalist. His voice ranges from growls (some moments on Sleeping Princess of the Arges) through shrieks (Um Sonho Psycodelico) to insane screams. I can't really tell, if he can sing, as this album has very few song with melodic vocals. Coming to second vocalist: Erichte mostly shouts on this album. She can also scream (The Draining), but her singing in Sleeping Princess of the Arges lacks some passion. Nevertheless she accompanies Kaiaphas very well.

Kaiaphas also performs drums on this album. I think he did a fair job, but the sound of certain drums (especially snare) is a bit weak. It also leads to snare being almost inaudible in certain fast parts. Remaining instruments are split between Aphazel and Jesus Christ!. Most of the songs have a decent overall composition - they are not too simple but also not anything which would make you fall asleep during the middle of performance. The riffs are mostly based on heavy metal. This album also features heavy use of keyboards. They mostly serve to set the dark atmosphere. Finally the guitar solos. Both Aphazel and Jesus Christ! show that they are guitar masters as all guitar solos are of brilliant composition. Too bad, that Jesus Christ! didn't perform more of it. He only plays solo on Sleeping Princess of the Arges and I also guess (but I may be wrong in this) he plays the solo in Black Funeral (I think so because of the sound - Aphazel's guitar has more reverb on it).

There are also some annoying moments on this record. I can't see a point with random laughters (especially in the first three songs). No matter how much Ancient are not a typical black metal band, "Oh yeah!" (song The Emerald Tablet) does NOT fit this music at all. And they could really remove the song 5. It is basically a continuation of the song Exu (from their previous album The Cainian Chronicle), only much worse.

If you want some album with horrible sound and lyrics only about Satan, this album is definitely not what you're looking for. But if you are an openminded metalhead then you can enjoy it. Sadly, this is their last good album.

Bouts of flair bogged by pretentious tedium - 55%

doomknocker, July 12th, 2011

Part of me gets what Ancient's bread and butter is. But another part doesn't. From the mid-90s onward, there were far worse black metal bands to slog on, but there were also far more talented acts probably salivating at the prospect of Metal Blade's worldwide stardom, bands that would've deserved being under their banner more than these harmless Nordic vampires. Still, what's done is done, and for all my yammering against hype, I just had to partake in an album so uncelebratory in its supposed crappiness.

So what was the end result? It ain't great, but not as bad as it's made out to be...

I think the biggest problem plaguing Ancient is its rather tedious approach to the black metal genre, thereby preventing them from truly getting an identity. In performance and composition, Aphazel and company seem pretty competent, even downright good, but for whatever reason, their overall appeal shows them to be almost pointless, with this album being a pretty prime example. Even their previous affair, "The Cainian Chronicles", only held so much attention due to a lack of necessity despite being a more solid effort. Around this time, Ancient's combination of gothic-tinged female singing and synthetics taken from a filthy cradle with riffing and grim screeches strewn across a dark throne contained occasional bursts of energy and good ideas warranting a bit of interest. However, Cradle of Filth were doing the gothic thing far better, and Darkthrone's politics and silly pandering made the riffing more enjoyable, unfortunately forcing "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends" into also-ran territory. Not that it's all our fault, though. Still, for all the laughing and unfair condemnation, I still found "Mad..." a halfway decent album that had the capacity to lean against its strengths in order to at least water down the weaker moments. The vintage riffing is still rather nice and Norse in approach, preventing them from heading towards pure Filthdom, and even the keyboards and clean singing only sideswipe such notions, with Kaiaphas' vocals being strange enough to prevent them from being stagnant and the chilling melodies dark and tasty in their own right, as shown on tracks like "The Draining", "Her Northern Majesty" and "Willothewisp". On paper, this would make for a fine album. And it's made fine albums before and after. But the formula seems a bit tainted by its own sense of pretension and unfocused direction. It's a shame, really, cause a good album is hidden amidst all the rubble and rancor.

In the end, this turned out better than the general folk let on, but it's far from a perfect product. I know that, chances are, this will offer some replay value, albeit at a more slim amount than many of their other peers.

Hey, wow, this is pretty fucking terrible. - 15%

MutatisMutandis, March 18th, 2006

It's a mystery so baffling I wasted half a decade on research. Over and over again, I paced my study, jaw tightly clenching an oaken pipe.

This is a picture perfect example of my money burning a hole in my pocket. When I think about it now, I would’ve been better off paying a steroid packed wrestler to hunt me down Chuck Norris-style with the threat of rape, only to pat me on the back and admit he was kidding when my frail chopstick legs finally gave out. Hmm... but that would make an amusing and equally disturbing memory I could reminisce on every time we sat around the campfire. We could laugh and joke and possibly create an animated mini-series. Hell, even a Court TV reenactment based on the fiery aftermath would amuse a few. Um, but y'know, I'm beginning to lose focus. I should really try to return to the review.

Anyway, Ancient sucks. There’s no way around it. I really have no idea what Ancient used to sound like, and have very little interest in finding out. I figure, if they retained some core members since their debut, there is no way they were ever worth my time in the first place. Like many pseudonym'd "black metal" bands signed to the "legendary" Metal Blade, what they lack in musical skill and substance, they make up for in campy trends and comically 'spooky' attire.

When I first popped this waste of resources into my stereo, I was pretty happy with my purchase and went under the impression that this was to be a solid slab of dark atmosphere and grim black metal. But then the first song swung in like Tarzan in drag. It just dragged on and on and on and on and on and then I turned it off around track 3. There are only 2 reasons I would turn off my CD player on the third song: 1.) I have no choice. 2.) The music is about as entertaining as sponge-painting a silo. Of course when I take the time to craft myself an entertaining comparison, it means said music happens to fall under category 2. I honestly can't pick out one flicker of innovation without disregarding it for it's cheesiness beforehand. I don't really feel like strolling over to their bio, but whoever is in charge of song writing should have their most sensitive outer body part crushed in a twirling vise for creating such horrendous and downright corny feather-boa-orgies of music.

These song structures suck intensely. Intensely. INTENSELY. I can’t imagine why most bands who seems so able with their instruments don't hone their song crafting to match their skill on the fretboard or skins, but seeing as Ancient is just a gaggle of talentless vampire-wannabees, so it's no wonder. From the outstandingly bad drumming, the utterly ridiculous "gothic" female vocals paired with the cartoonish blackened grunts that imitate severe constipation, Ancient does nothing but grumble on endlessly with some of the most boring and weak ass base riffs I've ever heard. Why do I call them 'base riffs'? Because the riffs are totally flavorless without the space-porno keyboards tumbling all over the place like caffienated drunks.

“But what does Steve know about tr00, kvlt, black metal madness from the unholy depths of Gomorrah?”, says the reader. Well, really nothing significant. I know for a fact that Euronymous was a dick, and Attila sounds like a Leprechaun giggling from inside a drainage pipe. I honestly don’t like most black metal. I find it to be monotonous in both theme and music. I suppose that makes me very biased, but hey, who're you gonna believe? Yeah, most likely not me.

Why would anyone sign this band? Does one of them own the label? While I may not be a regular black metal conquistador, it's clear that these four blemish-like individuals came together to create one of the worst events since the holocaust. Avoid this truly terrible piece of plastic at all costs necessary. Even if you have to perform indecent acts on a sibling, do not purchase this.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but trust me, it's really as bad as I said.

About 68% of this is shit - 32%

Reaper, August 14th, 2004

This album is mostly a huge waste of time (and when one begins a review with such a phrase, you know it can't be good). There is no sound structure or composition throughout most of this album, just some random sounds randomly placed throughout the album, and I shit you not, this is the case. For example, the first track, which is an intro track, has some guy laughing silently for 39 seconds. Is he laughing because he got idiots such as myself to actually purchase this album? Perhaps. The track serves no purpose at all, or perhaps it does, because the next two tracks are filled with pointless laughter as well. That’s the only thing that I remember after listening to them. What the fuck is this shit? This album is so disorganized; it really does not know where the fuck it’s going. It is so random and so obviously unrehearsed that it does not provide a pleasurable listening experience whatsoever.

A few of the songs have some catchy riffs here and there (relatively speaking of course), but only for a few seconds than the randomness is, again, implemented. Most of the songs have some whore of a woman talking, usually offbeat to the rest of the music, and then the male vocalist starts singing (after he stopped having wood over the female vocalist) or rather making random sounds while attempting to sing.

There is perhaps one good track on the album, everything else blows. The ones that stand out as less terrible are perhaps tracks five, “Sleeping Princess of the Arges” and track nine, “Willothewisp,” for, at least, a minimal demonstration of structure and the absence of laughter. “Sleeping Princess of the Arges,” has at least some kind of melodic approach present, without being totally random. Adequately sung lyrics by a female vocalist mixed with harsh raspy vocals work less gay, for lack of a better term. The strongest track on the album is track twelve, “Hecate, My Love and Lust,” which has a Cradle of Filth-eque atmosphere to it. Yes, it is pretty sad when the strongest track on the album sounds like Cradle of Filth. Other than this, I cannot recall a song that did not make me regret getting this album.

Another piece of crap track is track eleven, which albeit has some well executed conga beats which are impressive at times, it also has some retard in the background moaning for no apparent reason. An instrumental with moaning… hmmm? Are you guys running out of ideas?

There is really no need to describe any of the other tracks as most of them are not memorable and sound pretty much the same. It is quiet sad when a track like, “Neptune,” which is a very simple acoustical instrumental track, with soft symphonic keyboard sounds, is better than most of the other musical tracks. Get this album only if you are in dire need of retarded, disorganized, random, obnoxious attempts at putting out albums. Beware!

A faggoth masterpiece! - 30%

GrimAndFrostbitten, September 23rd, 2003

Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends is quite possibly one of the worst metal albums ever made -- however, unlike most godawful albums, this one is just hilariously bad. It's utter faggoth, focusing its themes on blood drinking, vampires, pseudo-satanic women, and a very large amount of drug-induced orgies. The only exception is one Norwegian nationalistic song, "Her Northern Majesty."

Musically, there are all the elements of really bad faggoth - blastbeats with weak drumming, raspy (but relatively understandable in this case) male vocals, mediocre female vocals, and lots of KEYBOARDS. Most of Aphazel's guitar riffing, when not taking second seat to poor keyboard playing by JESUS CHRIST!, is pitifully weak and often reminiscient of hard rock, some of it bordering stuff like Marilyn Manson would do in songs like Um Sonho Psycodelico. The first two songs are mostly fast, but only based on blastbeats and baffling vocals, but most of the album consits of slow, plodding songs that go on forever and are just outright bad, but at least have variety unlike bands like Opeth. For some reason, they also have what sounds like a Samba dance song called 5 with what seems like faint sounds of a troll orgy in the background. There are a few decent riffs, as in Vampirize Natasha, and a few decent solos interspersed throughout the album, but most of it it is just weak. When put together, however, it's mostly confused and comes off as poorly composed.

Oh, and they completely raped a classic Mercyful Fate song with terrible, terrible male/female vocals and overdistorted guitar. Oddly enough, they included a solo, but it's still bad.

The upside? The lyrics and themes, while somewhat well written and imaginitive, are just outright terrible, but in a good way. When put into bad music, they're even more humorous. If you need something to make you laugh and cheer you up, and can find it cheap, give this album a listen. I'll can only give you a few quotes to show you how great this album is:

"An orgasmic celebration of flesh ensues, our eyes luster with desires hue, copulation grins upon my face, as we cum all over the fuckin' place!" -- Um Sonho Psychodelico

"Thou art the bringer of orgasms supreme! ... ... I love you!!! I love you!!! I love you!!! I love you!!! (x10)" -- Hecate, my Love and Lust

"Violently, I'll fuck your pernicious cunt, while consuming the precious life-force, thoroughly enjoying the sweet flavor!" -- Vampirize Natasha

Uninspired - 50%

Firey, June 21st, 2003

First of all, this is not a bad album. I even like to listen to it from time to time. The problem is that it's not very good. Or good at all.
The music is simplistic black metal, with strong heavy metal influences in the guitar sound, especially noticeable in the solos. Adding up to the athmosphere there are some keyboards, although pushed to the back in the mix, and pretty good female vocals. Male (scream) vocals are also pretty good, not the best in the genre, but definately not the worst. All the other instruments have been played well, but the overall reasult is not good.
The real problem is the ever so obvious lack of inspiration. It's obvious that the band had tried to make a progressive black metal album with influneces of many different music styles (just listen to that "dark tribal precussion jam" named "5"), but instead they kept runnig in circles repeating same ideas through every song on the album, so you can sometimes get the feeling of listenong to one song over and over again. Even the album name and cover reflect that overall lack of inspiration.
Don't get me wrong, there are good ideas on this album,but there's only enough of them to make 3 or 4 songs, definately not 13 (since the 14th song is Merciful Fate cover). I don't know what the other albums are like, but if this is their worst one, the band is worth checking out. If not, oh well, it's just one of the many that never seem to get it right.

This is one bad album. - 1%

TheShadowfiend, June 16th, 2003

I've heard a lot of bad albums over the years, and this one ranks up there near the top. This album is so horrible I don't even know why it was released. Metal Blade ought to be ashamed of themselves here.

Nothing on this album sticks out in the slightest. The only thing that sticks out on this release is the pile of cheese these songs contain. Lord kaiaphas is the main culprit here pretty much. Not only does his vocals reek of weakness, but his drumming is really bad. How in the world did he get away with doing the drums on this album? I bet you a 2 year old could drum better than this. His vocals possess that Dani Filth-wanna be style that comes off as a comedy than anything serious.

Aphazel's guitar playing is an absolute travesty. Does he have any pride in himself? The riffs are so weak, but with a lame production, I didn't expect anything mind blowing to come through on the guitars. The stupidly named, Jesus Christ!, and yes the exclamation point is supposed to be there, offers up, worn and tired keyboards that are so typical of gothic-black metal. Erichte's vocals start out fine but after awhile they just get on your nerves so much you'll want to jump out the window.

No song is memorable in the slightest. They also had the nerve to cover the Mercyful Fate classic, "Black Funeral", and butcher it in the process. With song titles like "Vampirize Natasha", "Hecate, My Love And Lust", and "Her Northern Majesty", you no doubt know what kind of lamness you are getting yourself into.

This album and band is a complete disgrace to black metal. How this band got a following is beyond me. If you have any self respect, you won't buy this album at all. But, if you do, you have been warned.