ANCESTRAL – Master of Fate
After a decade-long absence on the album front, Italian power/speed metal band Ancestral return with their second full-length "Master of Fate". The nine originals on display plus a closing Helloween cover of "Savage" affirm the quintet’s outstanding chops and relentless riff pursuits – injecting a progressive, Bendetto Domiziano Mendolia bass solo penchant during the phenomenal "Refuge of Souls" five-minute instrumental beyond the heroic leads and twin axe master class between Alessandro Olivo and Carmelo Scozzari. Outside of the fact that the ever-present double bass and soaring choruses make "Back to Life" and "Lust for Supremacy" perfect for those who miss the early Blind Guardian years (pre-"Tales from the Twilight World") with more of a US thrash finesse to the mix.
Fabio Lione makes a guest appearance vocally as well on the aforementioned "Lust for Supremacy", as Jo Lombardo has potent pipes as well, definitely more of a metallic edge in that Halford/Dickinson oriented vein right out of the gate with the roller coaster opener "Back to Life", the half-time transition sure to make crowd surge in live settings. Throughout the triplet elements allow the rhythm section to sit back into more of a comfortable groove, then picking up the thrash pace when called for as your brain and body surrender to the sonic ideas thrown about – "Wind of Egadi" rising out of the pack because of the layers of riffs and smart, intuitive fill work. "Savage" was a b-side to the "Dr. Stein" single for Helloween in 1988, and could have easily been a regular song on the "Keepers" albums – right in Ancestral’s wheelhouse for shifting between mid-tempo bouncy riffs and heads down speed.
For those who have feared many of the veteran acts softening or commercializing their sound, "Master of Fate" is a welcome reminder for the roots of Teutonic-oriented power metal – and an excellent record to add to your collection.