For their whole existence as a band, Ancestors had this uncanny ability of mixing up their heavy foundations, split between doom metal and stoner rock, with the progressive rock spirit of the ’70s and the psychedelic aura of the late ’60s. Their earlier work, Neptune With Fire and Of Sound Mind, displayed just a hint of the underlying richness that composed the band’s sound. The real change came with In Dreams and Time, with Ancestors stepping more boldly into the progressive territory and produce a more fumey brand of psychedelic doom. Their long form compositions were not simply a collection of heavy riffs unfolding in a crushing pace. It was an album built on layers, and that is what made In Dreams and Time such an outstanding release.
After their 2012 opus, Ancestors fell off the radar, and for six long years nothing was heard from the band. Thankfully, they now return with a new album with the band changing its line-up, down to a trio from a five piece, and once again exploring the landscape of heavy music. The band’s new record Suspended In Reflections is also signalling a change for Ancestors, with the trio making a slight departure from their extended long-form compositions.
The focal point of Ancestors in Suspended In Reflections becomes the melodic doom element. Even though the band displayed this melodic leaning in its previous works, here it has been augmented. The introduction of “Gone” sets the tone for that shift, as the melodies take on an impressive form with a lot of weight from the rhythm section to support them. The vocal delivery is also aligned with that progression, balancing between a strong and direct rendition, while retaining a more mellow and lyrical side. The psychedelic touches further aid in granting a warmer ambiance to nest the melodies and make the process more hazy. It is an aspect that is not overused in the record, but its subtle touch gives an interesting twist. At the same time, the inclusion of the organ, a 1900 Aeolian Skinner, further enhances the retro touch of the band with its endearing quality.
It does feel like Ancestors are quite mindful of how the plethora of influences that they hold does not overwhelm the final result. The delicate nature of the melodies is the focal point of this outlook and it is what gives Suspended In Reflections its endearing characteristic. The opening of “Through a Window” displays that quality, while the inclusion of acoustic touches, organ and psychedelic concepts brings an impressive display of heavy music lyricism in “Lying In The Grass”. Still, there are times when a heavier and more direct presence is explored. The instrumental “The Warm Glow” sees the band produce a stronger brew of psychedelia, while “Into The Fall” sees them merge the post-metal grandeur with a majestic doom tone.
Everything works together in making Suspended In Reflections a mesmerizing listen. The band has found a very subtle touch in the way they explore their music, navigating through doom, stoner, prog and psych rock along with post-metal influences, in a very effective manner. In the past, Ancestors have produced music that featured a broader scope, implementing an exploratory mode directly influenced from the progressive rock scene. Instead here they lose themselves in the moment, producing a record that is deeply melodic and hypnotic.