Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse – Album Review

Artist: Ancient Settlers

Album Title: Our Last Eclipse      

Label: Crusader Records (Golden Robot Global Entertainment)

Date of Release: 1 April 2022

When I was presented with this promo, my first thought when I saw the band name and the artwork was that I’d be taken down a misty, murky path of folk tinged black metal, dark metal, or something relatively Earthy and gloomy at the very least. What I wasn’t expecting was to be thrust neck deep into modern melodic death metal instead. I always like to be surprised, so the initial shock was short lived and I ploughed on regardless, as I do have a soft spot for great melodic death metal.

Formed in 2020, Ancient Settlers is comprised of a multi-national cast, covering the US, Finland, Venezuela, Spain, and Portugal. A sextet, they are formed of Carlos Chiesa-Estomba (guitars), Herman Riera (drums), René González (keyboards/synths), Emmy Reyes (guitars), Antony Hämäläinen (vocals), and Miguel Herrera (bass). I’m not familiar with the band Haboryn, but if you are, you’ll recognise several of these names. Vocalist Hämäläinen has a list of bands to his name, including Crystal Tears, Meridian Dawn, and arguably most famously also had a stint in Nightrage. I think I’m also right in thinking that he may have featured at one time for Amaranthe in their live line-up. Regardless, it’s clear that these guys have some pedigree.

Unfortunately, this debut album, ‘Our Last Eclipse’ is not as good as I hoped it would be if I’m being honest. And there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I find the material on the album as rather generic and not especially original; I’ve heard music like this many, many times, and despite several runs through, I generally remain a touch underwhelmed by the music. There are some nice catchy melodies at play within some of the choruses and wider compositions, but nothing really stands out to me and clobbers me around the head as I feel this kind of music should do. And the shouty vocals within ‘Memories’ are not my thing at all, and are entirely unnecessary for my taste.

More on the tracks themselves shortly, but the biggest problem with this record is with the production. I fully appreciate that Ancient Settlers came together in a world turned upside-down by the global pandemic which will have made certain tasks a lot more difficult. But ‘Our Last Eclipse’ sounds muddy, indistinct, and worst of all, the vocals are way too far back in the mix. I can’t be the only one to notice this, surely? Maybe I am, maybe it’s my ears. But shouldn’t it be the drums that are situated at the back of the studio, or in a different room, not the vocalist? It’s the impression I get when I listen to this album. In fairness, I get more used to it as the record develops, but it threatens to completely ruin the first impression listeners will get when they hear this band for the first time via opening track, ‘Into The Depths I Ride’.

That said, on a more positive note, I get a bit of a Johan Liiva vibe from vocalist Antony Hämäläinen, although that could be partly down to the production – it’s hard to tell. And that’s a real shame as far as I am concerned.

I want to be more positive however, because there are some strong elements that feature on ‘Our Last Crusade’, including the title track itself. A slower more mid-tempo affair, it is alive with melody and is one of the more memorable songs that I hear here. In fact, I find that Ancient Settlers are actually at their best when they take their foot off the gas and inject more melody. The guys know how to pen a nice melody that’s for sure, and it is this element of their song writing that should be most highly lauded. The faster-paced riffs however, do tend to sound a little samey, although that’s a general gripe I have across the genre with melodeath that’s more metalcore tinged. This is highlighted within ‘Library Of Tears’, another positive composition even if it’s a little long at nearly seven minutes. I like the increased use of synths to add depth, but again, the production could have made them a little more prominent as they can tend to disappear in the mix. When the press release references 80s synthwave as an element of the band’s sound, the lack of clarity with the keys is another misstep unfortunately.

As many of you know, I hate writing reviews that are overly negative because I am generally someone that wants to see the positives in things. Hopefully I have created the balance here between being positive and also honest with my negative comments. There is certainly something there within this band that leads me to believe that a follow-up album could be a lot stronger and more powerful. To do that, Ancient Settlers need a better production across the board, and an injection of something within the music that creates more in the way of their own unique identity. This is easier said than done I know, but if the band can do that, I could see the name Ancient Settlers being spoken a lot more widely in metal circles in years to come.

The Score of Much Metal: 65%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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