I think it was about the time Neptune With Fire was released that Ancestors first set off my radar (that’s 2008 for anyone who’s too lazy to hit up Wikipedia). If you look at some of the other stoner metal bands who were starting to come into their own from that time, you’ll find acts like Baroness, The Sword, and Red Fang. Basically, it was thunderdome for bands vying for audience attention. But, what made the scene unique was that none of the aforementioned bands really sounded like each other; they all were original. And we’re lucky enough that Ancestors continues that tradition with Suspended in Reflections.
Ancestors have always set themselves apart through their ability to capture a temporal space. Their songs are slower and build like trudging up a mountain to… um… save the world or something like that—maybe there’s a treasure dragon, who knows. You can feel the weight as their songs purposefully move towards climax. And while Suspended in Reflections has some of their shortest cuts, that’s only because they’ve evolved their sound in a way that gets to the top of that mountain a little quicker.
Once you’re set adrift (dare I say, “suspended”) in Suspended in Reflections, fans of Ancestors will find themselves surrounded by a different kind of vibe. It’s nothing too out of left field but alongside the organs we’ve come to expect is a layer of synthy ambiance. We’re not talking a full-blown Stranger Things intro, but a subtle padding of electricity to hover over the earthiness the rest of the band is laying down. What’s important, though, is that there’s no instrument overpowering the mix. The arrangements warmly meld together in perfect harmony: like a jigsaw puzzle made out of oven-fresh brownies. And folks, we’re talkin’ about the brownies with the little bits of fudge baked inside—you know, the good stuff.
No matter what they throw at you, everything has its place. Take “Lying in the Grass,” which starts out flirting with jazzy vibe hits and less-traditional metal instrumentation before slamming into wide-open chords and thundering bass hits. And Ancestors makes it work. This album is filled with tiny sections like these throughout; you’ll hear it slip into the realm of shoegaze in one moment and wind up in a near Vaudevillian orchestra motif the next.
What I’m getting at is this album is best experienced as a whole. With all the moving parts jiving with every other so well, you’d be crazy to digest this tastiness as anything other than a meal. It’s also an album to play on repeat. You’re sure to miss a layer or two on your first few listens, so do yourself a favor, and keep it in your album rotation for a healthy minute. It’s full. It’s engaging. It’s an album I compared to hot brownies. What more do you want from me?