It’s been a damned long while since I last heard any metal out of China. The last bands that I heard were black metal bands like Skeletal Augury and Zuriaake. Apart from that, I have been pretty much ignorant about the scene in China. Until recently when a friend passed me a CD from Beijing thrashers, Ancestor – their debut EP, Age of Overload.
Age of Overload kicks off with an ominous roar of thunder, accompanied by a clean guitar line, and one would almost expect this to be an introduction to some classic raw black metal. But as soon as Immortal Dreams hits the listener, the band’s music couldn’t be further from that initial impression. What Ancestor presents on Age of Overload is some high-octane, chaotic thrash metal. Everything here is reminiscent of classic Slayer – the frantic riffs, the chaotic lead guitars, down to the relentless battery on the drums. The vocals of Li Meng even has a slight blackened touch, helping to give some slight Venom or even Sodom comparisons.
Playing aside, Ancestor‘s songwriting style also reeks of Slayer, as the song structures easily remind one of Reign in Blood or South of Heaven. Of course, this is heavily aided by the production quality of the album. The rawness helps emphasise the chaos and raw energy of the band’s music, and at times one even feels as though one were in a studio watching the band live. The added old school touch as a result, definitely adds to their charm for the old school metalhead.
One thing though, while speed is crucial in the music of Ancestor, there are times when this turned up as a potential weak link. There are some moments where guitarists Li Meng and Yang Fuwen almost seemed to sacrifice speed for accuracy on their solos like on Into Madness, which is rather unfortunate as the rhythm section is solid as hell.
Overall though, Ancestor‘s debut is still a fun listen, and presents the potential that is brewing in the Chinese metal underground.