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Ankhagram : Under Ruins

Slavs have an obvious taste for Doom. Doom Death and its Funerary outgrowth seem to suit particularly well the expressions of the soul of the peoples of Eastern Europe. Just look at the catalogues of Solitude Productions, BadMoonMan Music, Stygian Crypt or in this case the small russian label Satanarsa Records and youíll be struck by the incredible amount of local outfits that belong to the Doom genre. Of course, not everything is good, but everything is certainly worth a try.

Ankhagram is yet another name in a long list, but not one I would put at the bottom of it; it is a one-man project that hails from Russia, led by a an individual nicknamed Dead. The man takes the path that others have marked out before him: Shape of Despair, Colosseum, Comatose Vigil feed his massive and dark sound. Despite being unoriginal, Ankhagram knows the ABC of Funeral Doom by heart and regurgitates the lesson with a bit of talent. And this very bit makes all the difference.

'Under Ruins', Ankhagram's third full lenght, opens with a scene which is familiar to the fans of the genre: a knell slowly tinkling welcomes the listener to a tragic scenery, the rain beats the winding driveway leading to a small church lost in nowhere, a solemn female choir rises in the cold air, the thunder rumbles in the distance... those are common themes but still, this is a great introduction full of atmosphere.

The ingredients involved in the bleak mixture are part of the Funeral Doom canon as well: insistent and mystical keyboard ; droning guitars; tantric drums and deep grunts donít bring any unexpected charms. So what? The effect is totally convincing. Itís dark, peaceful, sinister and dreamy as we like it!

The drumming is very personal to the group, very rounded and rather accentuated at times. This is the rhythmic pivot around which the orchestra organizes itself. The sporadic intervention of a violin spitting short notes brings an acid touch that helps clearing the otherwise thick and gray broth. The voice, as I said, is ultra cavernous yet well articulated and it sometimes steps aside for some kind of liturgic spoken passages as well as synthetic choral dirges.

With this simple recipe, Ankhagram succeeds in a remarkable way in immersing you in a world of desolation. Everything is not perfect and some simplistic riffs are repeated far too long. If monotony is one of the aspects of Funeral Doom, it still must be nourished with good melodic ideas, which is sometimes lacking here. However, this is not a systematic occurence.

Although the music doesn't reach the effectiveness or subtlety of the masters of the genre, the connoisseur would not lose his time or money if he was to decide to venture into the dismal landscapes that Ankhagram evokes with a substantial talent.

Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Intro
2. Quiet and Gone
3. Oblivion
4. Under Ruins (Part I)
5. In Misery
6. Under Ruins (Part II)
7. Outro

Duration : Approx. 60 minutes.

Visit the Ankhagram bandpage.

Reviewed on 01-04-2009 by Bertrand marchal
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