I'm not quite certain what the cover art for Ancestors's new release In Dreams and Time is supposed to represent, but one thing is for certain: it doesn't prime you for what the album actually sounds like. Depending on your artistic interpretation, that may actually be a good thing—but let me actually tell you about this odd album.
In Dreams and Time sounds like a weird combination of sludgy doom and progressive metals, and it's actually done better than I probably just made it sound. The songwriting is solid and engaging, even though on the surface Ancestors are just remodeling familiar ideas—fans of Neurosis and A Storm of Light will find a lot of the sounds here to be familiar. The songs regularly stretch out past the nine-minute mark and feature long, repetitious, and droning passages, and through all of that, tempo and style changes come suddenly and (relatively) frequently. Not content with that, there are also a lot of references to bands like Pink Floyd and early works from The Mars Volta, especially in some of the album's lighter moments. “The Last Return”, for example, is a melodic drone/post-rock piece, kind of like Sigur Rós with a bit of extra power to it, and “On the Wind” almost sounds like a track you'd hear on The Division Bell. To say it runs the gamut of styles is understating the point.
There is an issue, though. While normally this does sound exactly like the kind of music I can get behind, at the end of the day, this album still didn't stick out in my mind that much. That is mostly because it didn't really feel like it went anywhere we haven't been to before. I enjoyed the ride and had a couple of good moments while listening, including hearing a couple of old ideas were approached from new angles, but after all is said and done, I still felt unfulfilled. No individual song or moment really felt like it was a noteworthy, great achievement. That's not to say it isn't worth listening to—it definitely still is, especially for post-metal fans. It just falls ever so short of being truly memorable. Ancestors clearly have the skill behind them, but they don't use it to their fullest extent just yet.
So if you're looking for a lighter and yet somehow still gloomy take on doom/sludge/post-metal, then you should definitely give In Dreams and Time a listen. It's a solid release, and hopefully an indication of where the band will take their talent in the future.
6.5 / 10
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