Thulcandra – “Ascension Lost” (Napalm Records)
If you’re an old Dissection fan like me, then Germany’s Thulcandra will appeal to you in no small measure! Although formed in 2003, in similar dark coincidence to the Swedes guitarist Jürgen Zintz committed suicide in 2005, thus putting the band on hold until the end of the decade when founder vocalist guitarist Steffen Kummerer decided to resurrect it and release their critically acclaimed debut “Fallen Angel’s Dominion”. Taking in the extreme chopping riffola pioneered by Jon Nödtveidt that successfully blended black / death brutality with spell bounding dark metallic melodies turning mega metal songs into immortal epics, Thulcandra follow in a similar style and even more so on this 3rd album! From the intensity of their riff assault, they also show their superior measure in evoking a cold, haunting atmosphere thanks to those clanging metallic melodies and Steffen’s frozen, calling in the wind vocals on songs like ‘Throne Of Will‘, ‘Demigod Imprisoned‘ and ‘Exalted Resistance’. Although less wild n harsh than their prior two releases, the excellent song arrangements on “Ascension Lost” see better flowing tempo changes allowing Thulcandra’s heavy metal influences to shine more but overall, the album is still intense, albeit from a different angle. Definitely one of Germany’s best bands, its a shame I don’t hear more often from Kummerer, but given he also plays in Obscura and Death DTA (whom the band will be touring with soon), it hardly comes as a surprise. Beyond that, its his stringent approach to quality control (as with Nödtveidt) that makes Thulcandra one of the most regarded underground acts around, playing only exclusive shows when they want to play so I would urge anyone to catch them live this year!