Everything about Ancestors’ debut, Neptune with Fire, screams “’70s prog,” from the title and cover art that reference King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon to the two epic-length tracks contained therein that just beg to stretch across the two sides of a 180-gram vinyl LP. And of course any metal band with two full-time members responsible for electric organ and “textural incarnations” is bound to have a healthy appreciation for the psychedelic spaciness of Hawkwind and early Pink Floyd.
Ancestors build Neptune With Fire on a series of simple, heavy guitar licks, jammed out ad infinitum. They aim for cosmic highs through repetition and atmosphere, but the album connects most when they’re focusing on nothing more transcendent than a great doom riff. It’s a pity that Ancestors don’t flex their stoner metal muscles more often, because the killer Kyuss worship of the first three minutes of “Orcus’ Avarice” is far more riveting than the directionless soup of the last ten.
Side-long tracks have felled more experienced bands than Ancestors, so it’s no surprise that they can’t sustain interest throughout the twenty-one minute title song. The doom riffing that opens it is fine on its own, and the eight-minute crescendo at the end, while overblown and overlong, is at least garlanded by a set of gorgeous chord changes. But transitions between the sections are wobbly at best, and the six minutes o’ Mogwai in the middle feels tacked on. Ancestors are tripping over their many good ideas on Neptune with Fire, and as a result the album isn’t nearly as epic as they want it to be.