Album Review: Our Last Eclipse by Ancient Settlers (Crusader Records)

International technical/melodic death metal outfit, Ancient Settlers, release their debut album, Our Last Eclipse, on 1st April, via Crusader Records.

Ancient Settlers were founded in just 2020 by Carlos Chiesa-Estomba & Herman Riera (Ex- Haboryn), Rene González (Ex- Aesthesis), Emmy Reyes (Blackbeer, Ex- Gamalyel), and Antony Hämäläinen (Meridian Dawn, Ex- Nightrage & Armageddon), a group of musicians with more than fifteen-years of experience in the European and American metal circuit. In 2021 the band signed to Crusader Records/Golden Robot records and set out on the trail to produce their debut album, Our Last Eclipse, which will be released Digitally and on CD on April 1st, 

The band started their journey with the intention to explore the frontiers of modern melodic death metal, including catchy guitar riffs, the use of synths & keyboards, and a variety of different sounds and rhythms, trying to develop their own music personality. From a lyrical point, the band gets inspired by the recent tragedies that affect the earth and human race. They try to spread their message over all those who want to listen.

Despite the strong momentum and enthusiasm, the band needed to modify their starting plans, due to the pandemic outbreak, like so many others. They pushed forwards and, in January of 2021, the band released their first digital single Diamond Eyes’, along-side a limited edition 7″ vinyl. The following February, the band released their debut EP, Autumnus. Both were recorded in Portugal, France, Spain and the USA, and requested the service of Daniel Cardoso (Anathema, Anneke Van Grisbergen) to mix & master the album, as well as Gus “Perkele” Sazes (Angra, Kamelot, Gus G, Firewind, Arch Enemy) to design the artworks.

In April 2021, Miguel Herrera joined the band as a full-time bass player. The band headed out on a live-session tour and have just signed to Crusader Records, ready to take on the world with Our Last Eclipse, an album produced by worldwide Grammy awarded Fredrik Nordstrom.

Ancient Settlers Our Last Eclipse band

 

Our Last Eclipse delivers 10 new tracks of exciting modern melodeath starting with Into the Depths I Ride. Being a new band to me, you really hope that the first album song grabs you and tells you more about the band. This song definitely delivers that, exploding into life with a energetic drums and a speedy riff. The vocals are cleaner that I expected but that’s not a bad thing. It also helps with the gruff backing vocals that jump in to add a layer of depth. The chorus is good, pretty catchy and the strong layer of synth that runs through the song is much more prominent in the chorus creating an interesting and modern sound. The little slow down makes the song though, a little melody, hushed whispers and tapping drums totally transforms the song before a wonderful little solo takes control.

That’s a great way to start an album, instantly making sure you capture the full attention of any listener.

The quality stays at the very top level as we head into the absolutely fantastic, Cast in Gold. Really intricate sounding synth leads the song in before a wicked guitar melody takes control. Again, I love the pace and energy to the song and the bass/drum rhythm really gives the song a thick and rich quality. It’s a pit filler that balances the melody and heaviness really well and throws plenty of twists and turns our way. Another little bridge featuring strings, a gorgeous solo and then that transition back into the chorus is a real treat.

The title track, Our last Eclipse follows and raises the bar to new heights. It’s a huge song, in sound and length and packs a huge chunky groove. The pace drops away a little but the drums and bass shake through your very being in a song that oozes coldness and desperation. The chorus, especially through the lead guitars, offers a small ray of light but it is short lived and soon replaced by a strong emotive and morose feeling again. There always seems to be a lot going on but everything fits nicely together with the drums really leading the way, standing out even as the guitars and synth go to town in a slightly insane and highly skilled solo section.

Cerements has a poppy sound, much cleaner than everything that came before. It has a bit of an 80’s movie soundtrack vibe to the intro before the metal drops and transforms the song into a catchy, headbanger of a track. It isn’t quite as relentless an attack as the starting section of Our Last Eclipse though it is nice to see Ancient Settlers flexing their creative muscle and showing even more strings to their bow. The lead vocals occasionally sound a little too flat on this one though – it’s a tone that works on the heavier songs but vocals are a bit more isolated on this cleaner cut.

Jotnar Magick and Library of Tears follow. The former being an absolute firecracker of a song with seriously impressive energy and pace, led by the drums for the most part. Fast and furious, but speckled with elevating lead guitar melody and a super catchy chorus, its a banger. The latter is a 7 minute long epic that ,may be my favourite track on the album. It’s just a ripper of a song with a punchy riff, vocals that bed in nicely with the instruments and a machine like drum beat. All of that gets dappled with haunting synth sections and gives across an atmosphere of cold desolation. The chorus beat will have even the most stubborn head banging. I love this track.

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Silent December goes heavy on the synth in the intro, sounding 80s until the drums and guitars crash in turning it into, in a good way, Scar Symmetry style. The band state they were inspired by Blade Runner and that comes through in the track. The switching between spoken vocals and growled works perfectly in a song littered with chunky rhythm and contrasting melody.

Memories is next and hits deep with lyrical content so relevant to right now, being about those displaced from their homes, the outcasts, the broken but also the hopeful. The band use gang vocals for the first time on Our Last Eclipse in a song that is impressive with speed and frenetic energy and then, the chorus drops and it may be the best chorus on the album. It has an almost punk feel to it, so catchy, before it drops out and is replaced by a wicked lead guitar line. It alos offers up an absolutely magical solo that screams out emotion and passion. Damn!

The Black Rainbow is the penultimate track on Our Last Eclipse and changes things up a bit with a more melodic feel, a slower tempo and a very introspective feel. It still packs a punch, still hits you with crunchy riffs, just feels thicker and richer and darker with the bass standing out in front alongside the consistently awesome drumming and inspiring lead guitars. And so we reach the end of our journey through Our Last Eclipse with the aptly named closing track, Peregrination.

First off, I am really pleased the band decided to go out with a bang, raising the tempo, aggression and energy back up to the highest levels. Wicked riffs and intense drum and bass set the foundation. The vocals bark at you aggressively and the synth and lead guitars do what they do best, working off of each other perfectly to elevate the track and keep things interesting and exciting throughout.

The last minute of the track is very different though, almost like an interlude to close out the album. A little guitar and synth instrumental section that genuinely feels like it could be the roll of credits on a 80’s science fiction movie. I like it, and I like that it closes the album, it juts doesn’t feel in many ways part of the final track.

Ancient Settlers are a talented and exciting band managing to blend an awful lot into Our last Eclipse yet somehow managing to make the album work seamlessly and not feel cluttered or over ambitious. There are some issues to my personal taste. I love the vocals but, they are quite monotone, almost traditional melodeath and that works brilliantly in the heavier songs but, in the cleaner cuts, it leaves them quite isolated and they could do with a tone change or even more backing.

There also isn’t an overall concept to the album really, with tracks that cover everything and anything the band want from Blade Runner (esque) to displacement to Norse mythology. That’s really not so much a negative as an observation. In some ways, I love that they have written an album about their own personal inspirations without being tied down to a concept. In others, it means the album doesn’t really flow exactly as a journey.

Not so much complaints, just personal observations I guess. What I do love far outweighs any of that nonsense anyway. Fast paced, heavy yet thoughtful metal that balances modern twists with traditional melodeath perfectly. I spent a lot of this album headbanging away happily, loving the solos and punching the air through the many memorable choruses. Ancient Settlers are supremely talented and creative and Our Last Eclipse is just about the perfect introduction to the band if you don’t know of them already. This deserves your time.

Pre order/pre save Our Last Eclipse at this link.

Ancient Settlers Links

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Our Last Eclipse by Ancient Settlers (Crusader Records)
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