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A bit bleaker, and a bit better. - 80%

hells_unicorn, January 8th, 2012

Many nations have offered impressive bands up to the welcoming arms of metal thrashing mad crowds, but to my own recollection few have come from the Italian peninsula (a place better known for its power and black metal scenes). Nevertheless, exceptions are always possible, and Ancient Dome proves to be a fairly impressive one. While largely coinciding with a renewed interest in the retro-thrash style, they've carved out their own niche that is a bit different from the typical revivalist outfit. A smattering of sci-fi alongside a bleak view of the future lyrically (the latter of these two approaches a fairly common thing in the later 80s when thrash metal became "environmentally conscious") and a middle of the road mid 80s, head cutting speed/thrash approach meets a slightly progressive, melodic later 80s hybrid is what makes this band tick, and they appear to be getting better at keeping the second hand of the metallic clock moving.

"Perception Of This World" ups the ante from its predecessor one year prior "The Human Key" by taking a slightly leaner and meaner approach. This becomes all but immediately apparent as a brief introduction that sounds almost like a fragment of a song that could have been on "Eternal Nightmare" leads into a thick, heavy monster of a thrasher in "Liar". While this band has had a number of particularly good songs both on this album and the previous one, this particular number channels just about every positive element of the Bay Area scene and builds up around a principle riff that is somewhat along the lines of an early Iced Earth song. Similarly hard hitting crushers emerge in "When Day Dies..." and "Confused Certainty", though dressed up with some more consonant lead guitar elements that somewhat remind a slight bit of the latter progressive era of Death (particularly "Symbolic").

The area where this album does a little bit better than its predecessor is in the songwriting and production department. While there was a good collection of straight up thrashers to this band’s approach on “Human Key”, they tended to be a little bit hampered when trying to slow things up and develop a more melodic approach that conforms to recent trends in the style. The strongest example is the somewhat ballad oriented and epically bent title song, which definitely draws some elements from the progressive side of the style that has been developing since the early 90s. It starts out with a drawn out and dreary intro that eventually builds up to a furious ride of speeding riffs and even an occasional death metal bark chime in to accompany Paolo’s shrill, gritty shout. Put on top of this a more spacey atmosphere to the lead guitar sound, which is actually quite reminiscent of Chuck Schuldiner’s work on later Death albums, and a multifaceted approach becomes not only a good addition, but equally as strong as the standard meat and potatoes.

There is a good amount to be heard on here, a lot of it heard before, but not quite in this peculiar variation. The production factor comes off as fairly textbook, other than the lead guitar sound which definitely paints a cosmic foreground over what is otherwise a plain, steel bound slate. The songwriting is solid, mixing things up a little bit, but not forgetting that barring the occasional token epic, things need to be digestible for the target audience. This is music that you can wreck your neck to, but also contemplate a possible future to. It doesn’t fully break out to the point of upstaging the large array of thrash metal bands pouring into the scene of late, but Ancient Dome definitely could use some love, and they’ll be getting more from me as their sound develops, metal willing.