Psychedelic Overload 

Ancestors Balance the Epic and Ethereal


To their credit, Los Angeles-spawned Ancestors have excelled at facilitating the marriage of what in some circles may be coined "vintage" doom (which seems akin to likening grunge bands to classic rock), to the auditory meditations of sprawling '70s psychedelic behemoths like Pink Floyd. For Ancestors, self-dubbed as a "psychedelic doom-metal ensemble" (as good as any invective to describe the band's punishing symphony), there's less songwriting involved, and heaping helpings of interplanetary improvisation between the twirling orbs of the group's five members.

To their presumed detriment, this wedlock has come at the price of garnering artistic praise in lieu of tsunami waves of popularity. But listening to the band's debut LP, Neptune with Fire, released this past August on psych-metal label Tee Pee Records, it's easy to assume that the scale for which they're striving doesn't measure gold.

The band started as a three-piece project in the summer of 2006, when Justin Maranga (guitar, vocals), Nick Long (bass, vocals), and Brandon Pierce (drums) experimented with the concept of combining their perceptions to cultivate a grandiose soundscape. After adding Englishman Chico Foley (electronics, "textural incarnations") and J. Christopher Watkins (organs), the group's vision exploded into the cathartic expressions found on their debut, which consists of only two songs: "Orcus' Avarice" and the title track, both soaring well over the 15-minute mark, which tells a tale of a metaphorical character and his "cosmic, psychological ordeal through war, celebration, remorse, and revelation."

Whether you dig on the imagery more than the trippy expansiveness of Ancestors' sludge-y opus is hardly important; what remains tantamount to the band's essence isn't in the energy put into deciphering the dual foci of their craft, but in the daring game of allowing the two to swirl into the yin and yang of a larger whole. When Maranga screams, and the tone of crushing chords descends until the bottom drops out, leaving ample reverberation for the textural palate of Foley's electro-rigidity; when you've become somewhat hypnotized by the drone of artistic repetition and find folly in the trappings of lesser forms of what's becoming a chic alternative to "vintage" metal, therein lies the secret of Ancestors. In simple terms: Less talk, more rock.


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