Ages – Uncrown (Black Lodge)

Tuesday, 18th August 2020
Rating: 8/10

Ever miss the sweeping grandeur that the Swedish meloblack scene had in the ‘90s? That soaring, yet somehow somber and elegant approach to black metal, that may have utilized keyboards but kept the guitars at the forefront? Ages is back with their second full-length, a full five years following The Malefic Miasma, to remind us of how breathtaking that particular sound can be.

Ages does things in the way that acts like Vinterland or Dawn used to. There’s a certain icy element to their Swedish melodic black metal, but it never stops it from being flatout gorgeous when it comes to the melodies themselves. Just take a quick gander at “Illicit State,” and you’ll instantly be taken back a few decades to the zenith of the sound – a rousing melody starts things off, while guitars and blastbeats buzz in the background. A melody that’s all but certain to be stuck in your head by the time it trails away at the end of the first minute. Some tracks, like “Dominionism,” can rage with blackened speed while still keeping an epic scale to their melodies – and strengthened by knowing when to ease off the gas a bit too. On the other hand, “The Death of the Old Kings” stands out as possibly the most melancholic piece within the album, with a cold sense of longing channeling through the riffs with a fitting royal elegance to it all.

The real genuine article when it comes to this particular sound, one that not nearly enough bands still champion as far as this scribe is concerned, Ages really scratches the Swedish meloblack itch. Uncrown is an excellent trip to a time when these type of melodies were thoroughly exciting and swept you off your feet with their razor-sharp grace. This captures all of those feelings, while giving it a production that is in tune with the old but is still sure to win over more recent black metal devotees.

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