(This Dark Reign Recordings)
Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1
A refreshing addition to the legions of black metal, these eastern-Europeans subtly and skillfully blend influences from death, classic, and old-school black metal. "Masquerade", for example, begins with bass strumming typical of Iron Maiden, and flows into a dark and majestic black metal rhythm. The lead guitar tone is sharp and sinister, and harmonizes well with the dark, heavy rhythm guitar. The high-growled vocals add a creepiness that fits the music perfectly. Throw in a couple dark and chilling sound samples, and keyboards straight out of an old vampiric horror flick, and you've got Asguard, who were formerly known as Ancient Castle. Their older name conjures an image which aptly describes the atmosphere conveyed by their music. The focus of the mix is more on the technical instrumentation than on the ambience, but parts of some songs sound like they belong on a Castevania soundtrack! The lyrics don't really carry this same theme, instead most are quandaries of death and existence.
Although some songs are 3-5 minutes long, a common song length on this album is 2 minutes, which is unusual for the atmospheric genre. Some of the adjoining songs sound like a continuation from the last, and this could be because, in addition to being divided into tracks, the album is also separated into four "Acts", each beginning with a brief and ominous atmospheric piece. These tracks are genuine and believable, aided by a local Belarusian orchestra and naturalistic sound effects.
Their mixture of influences really differentiates their sound, making it difficult to make a comparison to their contemporaries, and the unique ambience they create enhances the listening experience. The amount of work put into this release is evident, and the outcome is admirable and enjoyable. -- Lady Enslain