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Ambivalence : A Land Of Myth & Magic

Well-done, but hardly unique amongst the transitional Death-to-Gothic Doom bands: Ambivalence's work from the '90s.

An obscure Australian band this reviewer has never heard of, now benefiting from a proper release where the band's demo and unreleased 1999 album were both pressed as a single CD, now available through Russian label Endless Desperation Productions. Unlike what Solitude Productions has done with Hierophant's rare material or with Amber Tears' 'Revelation of (the) Renounced', both becoming widely available and both worthy of the effort invested, by which the label has unearthed virtually unknown treasures from the graves of the underground - in the case of releasing Ambivalence's material and making it available to the masses, that very effort is at least an arguable move.

Reviewing a sixteen or an eighteen year old release (depending on whether the demo or the debut album is being listened to) and referring to its originality or innovative aspect using today's prism would be ironic, but even if we rewind the timeline to the end of the Nineteen Nineties, there's a small chance Ambivalence's music would grab you hard; it's too bland even for those long since gone days of innocence. Sure, it's got the inevitable oldschool unrefined approach to Doom/Death or melodic Death Metal, using guttural vocals and simple melodies of slow to mid-paced tempos; sure, they choose a beauty-and-the-beast style on some tracks, where the band incorporate a female singer whose soprano comes clashing with the sewer-vocals of the main vocalist in a rather smooth and surprisingly attractive a fashion -- but nothing in the compositions or the general aesthetic was new or exceptionally unique even then, so many years ago. The Gathering had done it on their seminal and quasi-revolutionary debut album 'ALWAYS...'; God Forsaken had done it on their 'Dismal Gleams Of Desolation' (both from 1992) - that strange twilight zone of metal where Death Metal gave way to the slower, more melodic and romantic type of Death Metal, before Gothic Metal was even established as a standalone sub-style.

And there lies the problem: name any band metamorphing from traditional and primitive Death Metal all the way into the Gothic zone, from that bizarre era - and it will sound like Ambivalence, more or less. It was a fast-growing trend and inevitably bands started to plagiarize each other -- we can only make an educated guess here -- not unlike what had happened in Scandinavia with the 2nd-wave of Norwegian/Swedish Black Metal boom.

So yeah, hooks, nice tried-and-true riffs and melodies are aplenty here, some cool growls alongside nice co-starring female soprano vocals - all that manifesting against some raw, primitive, cavernous death metal, but failing at fully grasping the concept of atmosphere and emotion, as opposed to -- let's say -- the above mentioned The Gathering's 'ALWAYS...'.

There are some brilliant ideas here, like the opening track using a didgeridoo or the bewitching folk segments or the emotional instrumental eighth track, or how the female singer adapts perfectly to the metallic aesthetic or the gorgeous closing track; 'A Land Of Myth And Magic' is nostalgia-ridden and well crafted, but as aspiring as Ambivalence's music was back then, it could not elevate itself above the style's cliches and couldn't fully realize its obvious potential.

Recommended for those who are curious how older bands once sounded like and for those who like everything about death-metal-going-Gothic from that era.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. A Time Before Morning (Instrumental)
2. The Unseen
3. Rainbow Serpent
4. In The Nightsky Awakening
5. The Old One Of Wise Tales
6. From Within The Everfall
7. He Of The Wrath Part I : Mother Earth
8. He Of The Wrath Part II Folk Of The Dreaming (Instrumental)
9. The Unseen
10. From Within The Everfall
11. The Old Man Of Wise Tales
12. Myths Of A Dreamtime (Instrumental)

Duration : Approx. 44 minutes

Visit the Ambivalence bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-01-23 by Chaim Drishner
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