Sequester – Ancestry
Sequester is, without a doubt, my favorite one-man power metal project in existence. However, since that doesn’t really say all that much (how many of those do you know?), let me go on to say that calling this a “basement music project” doesn’t do Mr. Ryan Boc justice. My first exposure to this Canadian’s work was last year’s extremely refreshing full-length album, Shaping Life And Soul, and I was very pleasantly surprised to learn of Ryan’s new work, Ancestry, a four track EP with a decidedly Scottish-folk flavor about it. As a brief aside, I’d like to say that I very much appreciate releases like this that are kept “in the dark” right up to the point where they are ready, as opposed to the Seven Kingdoms, Edguy, or, most horrifically, Wintersun tendency to unabashedly demand ridiculous amounts of fan attention, financial support, and interaction prior to release. Some people still understand how to make an album right, without the help of a label or meretricious promotion.
Ancestry was birthed from a pair of songs (presumably the two openers, “A Feral Apparition” and “Niseag”) that were withheld from being added to Shaping Life And Soul. With a folktale agenda on these two songs already, it was simple for Boc to add a pair of covers of Scottish folk songs to round out a nicely thematic EP. At first glance, “A Feral Apparition”, with its ambitious length and form (8+ minutes, and with an abundance of melodies), may seem to be the real meat of this work, but there’s no lack of interesting material.
“A Feral Apparition” is based upon a Scottish folk story about a werewolf, and both the trudging mid-tempo pace and the foreboding lyricism make this an eerie, campfire-style listen. “Niseag” is a more compact tune dealing with everyone’s (Well, us North Americans, at least) second favorite mythical beast (aside from Sasquatch), the Loch Ness monster. Aside from a long and winding instrumental section, this song is very quick and to the point. Possibly my favorite tune here however, and one of the finer rock/metal covers of Scottish/Gaelic folk music that I’ve heard, is Sequester’s version of “Bonnie Dundee”. While Ryan has proved with “Three Ravens” from Nameless One that he has a knack for arranging folk ballads, I think he’s outdone himself with both this song and the closing rendition of the Skye Boat Song. Boc’s vocals are layered and as distinctive as ever, and he adds a tie-in effect between the two songs in his guitar work (check the solo in “Bonnie Dundee” and the acoustic guitar outro from “The Skye Boat Song”). Ultimately, I find the vocal work on this closing track to be some of the most tender and soothing that I’ve heard in metal. The chorus has a positively mesmerizing quality.
Twice now, Sequester has issued a short but highly effective EP of four songs. Ancestry, while a bit more subdued than Nameless One, is an overall improvement in quality, and the consistency and efficacy of the EP’s theme is undeniable. Sequester’s music remains some of the most distinct in the heavy/power metal field, with some heavy folk and structurally progressive touches that make it a clear choice for numerous repeated listens. Fans of any of Sequester’s previous work will eat this right up (though they might be disappointed at the lack of fantasy/video game influence), and it’s a great point for those interested in the folkier side of metal to give the band a shot, especially if you like your myths and legends.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5