‘A Land Of Myth & Magic’
Endless Desperation Productions (2015)
There is a wonderful innocence and even naivety to the death-doom stylings of long-defunct Australians Ambivalence. Imagine an earnest and enthusiastic combination of early Amorphis, Candlemass and Skyclad, with unexpected bits of Bolt Thrower and Opeth thrown in. Sounds too good to be true? Well, almost. Unsurprisingly, things get a little jumbled and distracting, but more importantly, this album – released for the first time since it was recorded back in 1998 – is a huge amount of fun.
Angelic soprano vocals burst like sunlight from between the grey clouds, fiddles jump out from behind trees, synths creep in from hidden places… creating an intriguing and often very rewarding doom metal sound. An uneven mix makes it sound like some bits are made from Lego, but more often than not, the band’s energy and power is able to break through and the musical mash-up works well.
Songs tend to be fairly short and sometimes feel slightly rushed, as if arranged in a food blender. But while the album may be riddled with mistakes and misjudgements, to err is human – and Ambivalence’s unrefined humanity is a very welcome addition into the modern, sanitised metal industry.
Ambivalence had discarded their early black metal tendencies by the time they recorded this album (and the 1997 four-track demo that is also included in this stylish package from Endless Desperation Productions). Unable to get a distribution deal, the Aussie band split up in 1998, but there is certainly enough evidence on ‘A Land Of Myth & Magic’ to suggest that if they had carried on they could’ve created something special.
In this uncovered little treasure, we get a fascinating glimpse into the 1990s death-doom vibe and a great reminder of a band that lived only briefly but squeezed a lot in while they had a chance.