Brave Words – Neptune With Fire review

AllMusic – Neptune With Fire review

Metal Maniacs – Ancestors Feature

Swan Fungus – Live review 11/15/08


…[T]here was an amazing line-up scheduled to perform Saturday night in Chinatown at Mountain Bar. Ancestors, Conifer, Lightning Swords of Death and Earthless. For the first time perhaps since the Bottling Smoke Festival, there were four bands on the same bill in Los Angeles that I actually wanted to see. Ancestors deafened me once before at The Smell, but on that night I was more excited to see Suishou No Fune, so I wanted to see them again and give the music a chance to capture me. I’ve been listening to Conifer since their self-titled album appeared on an Aquarius Records mailing list, and was overjoyed to see them performing in LA for the first time (at least, the first time I’m aware of). Lightning Swords Of Death opened for Wolves In The Throne Room last year and impressed me with their epic black metal tunes and their penchant for choking everyone in the room with a fog machine on full blast for the duration of their set. Earthless, of course, gets much respect on this site for their amazing psychedelic, kraut-y, monstrous space-rock jams.

The upstairs room at Mountain Bar has no ventilation, just a series of fans blowing in various directions. All the lights, save for one measly bulb off-center on the left-hand side of the room, were turned off for the entire evening. This made photography difficult, but definitely aided the mood. The setting was perfect for a series of low-end heavy, grim and grungy, ultra-psychedelic rock bands (and one black metal band).

Ancestors took the stage fifteen minutes before ten o’clock, and played for thirty or forty minutes. I think they were the loudest band of the evening, but somebody else who stayed for all four acts might beg to differ. They employed two keyboardists, which I don’t remember at all from last time I saw them. Their monumentally heavy jams fall somewhere between psychedelic heavy metal and space rock on the music-journalist-genre-o-meter. The first tune they played was slow and featured sporadic shouted vocals. The only other tune that I remember was the latter portion of “Orcus’ Avarice” from their recent Neptune With Fire LP, which sounds like a stoner rock rendition of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor dirge. It was lumbering and repetitive and triumphant. I yearned for the grand riff to reach a stunning crescendo, and I was not let down. Out of the four acts on this night, Ancestors played the best set. Everything was perfect. The pant-leg-shaking volume, the long, drawn out jams, and the beautiful arc of “Orcus’ Avarice” completely changed my opinion of the band, and overshadowed the other three bands’ performances. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on Neptune With Fire. [Listen to "Orcus' Avarice" (edited)]

High Times – Neptune With Fire review

High Times Review

Chart Attack – Neptune With Fire review

CD Cover 2

ANCESTORS Neptune With Fire (Tee Pee) Sludge is pretty easy to come by, but it’s always best served with plodding drums, impossibly dissonant guitars and a doom-laden disposition. Ancestors posses all three things and Neptune With Fire is a heavy bevy of sooty hate. The band take cues from the grimy guys in the Melvins and Sleep, and tune down, way down, to create music with an incredibly dense bottom end. It’s heavy as hell and also gives props to bands like Slint for their use of shifting dynamics and precision playing. Unsurprisingly, every song is incredibly drawn out, so just getting through a single track is a bit of a chore. Luckily, anybody delving into Ancestors would likely be predisposed to this sort of music, so the band should find a receptive audience if they play their cards right. Cameron Gordon

ALARM – Ancestors Feature

ALARM – Neptune With Fire review – Neptune With Fire review

October 2008

Released in August, Neptune With Fire is the debut release for both the Ancestors, a Los Angeles-based metal quintet of varying description, as well as for North Atlantic Sound, a new imprint on Tee Pee Records. The near future of the label (as well as that of the band) will be interesting to follow, as this epic release paints North Atlantic as a label with clear artistic and conceptual standards and, therefore, upcoming releases already have a strong benchmark set for them.

What makes Neptune With Fire different from any other album that I’ve heard in 2008 is that the album’s ample 38:26 running time is composed of only two songs: the 17-minute “Orcus’ Avarice” and the nearly 22-minute title track (a seven-minute snippet of this track is posted below to give you a taste). Therefore, though there are attributes of many metal subgenres on display here (psychedelic, doom, sludge, etc.), the most obvious characteristic of this album is the band’s desire to jam. Both tracks feature lengthy sections with moments of distortion and noise used as transitions.  Neptune With Fire is presented as a concept album, as a metaphorical character experiences a transforming journey.  Unfortunately, the lack of and oft-unintelligible nature of lyrics on the songs (which are apparently sung by committee) hinders my understanding of the quest at hand.  This is not a major detriment, however, because the moods of the different sections of each song and the transitions between these sections shed some light into the pain and glory expressed therein.

The band handles their various styles ably, as the album’s opening psychedelic passage jams pretty hard, and the almost medieval air of a large portion of the title track lends an air of weighty fantasy.  Though J. Christopher Watkin’s organ stands out on the title track, the individual instruments usually blend into a cohesive unit as the band focuses on creating airtight sonic portraits.  Many of the songs’ sections lumber repetitively as momentum is built very slowly and the groove forms and transforms naturally.  The abundance of these transformations of varying speed keep these long tracks fresh and allow the band plenty of time to construct the appropriate moods and tie up loose ends when necessary.

Neptune With Fire is a strong debut for the Ancestors and is highly recommended to those who have the patience for metal epics.  The album’s artwork was designed by Arik Roper (who has done the same for many of the Ancestors’ psychedelic metal compatriots) and is currently available on both vinyl and CD at the Tee Pee shop.

Pitchfork – Neptune With Fire review

Neptune With Fire

Neptune With Fire

[Tee Pee; 2008]
Rating: 7.7

First, there’s the straightforward thickness of Kyuss disciples Corrosion of Conformity. The resin-sopped riffs of Pepper Keenan’s oft-overlooked stoner rock troupe seem to offer the blueprint for much of the opening track on Ancestors’ Neptune With Fire. Second, there’s the suffocatingly slow inertia of Sleep. The doom progeny’s stillness informs the rest of this L.A. five-piece’s debut, and Arik Roper, the psych-artist who designed Sleep’s Dopesmoker’s album art, designed the visuals for Neptune. And then, when you get away from the backbone, there’s Pink Floyd and maybe even Hawkwind here as well. But it’s those two immediately perceptible reference points that make for an interesting 1990s-informed take on 70s hard psyche, early doom, and art rock.

The album consists of just two songs– “Orcus’ Avarice” is over 16 minutes, the title track is more than 20– and both serve as launching pads for extended jams. But the soloing is supported by some serious riffs. “Orcus’ Avarice” moves with the urgency of CoC’s “Heaven’s Not Overflowing” and the deliberate pace of the latter’s “Albatross”. It’s the kind of lumbering meganess that easily turns on a dime. So by the time the drums have reeled in, and the guitars ascend into outer-space, it’s hard to recall the tumult that came only moments before. Ancestors, able to do more than whip up a simple fervor, spend a good six minutes inspecting the same guitar scale and a slippery blues bassline that gradually builds to climax, like creatine Pink Floyd.

But the big coup here– the game-changer, really– is the presence of an organ. It noodles underneath the “Orcus” jam politely, offering texture to an otherwise head-first pound, and recasts the second, title track as a carnival-like bruiser. The wobbly notes swing upward and stall on the final intro chord of “Neptune With Fire”, as thunder clouds descend and colossal guitars rush in. The second half of the track, with its reliance on monotone Ozzy burring, loses itself momentarily in the sort of weak revivalism that’s the order of the day. But the ship rights itself over a crushing ritardando. Steel strings lurch to a crawling halt, the organ throbs, and after a lengthy bass workout, a tremolo-picked guitar sounds in the distance, slowly dragging the riffs back into the fray with post-rock’s shit-just-got-real soberness.

Sure, Ancestors’ approach can be slightly formulaic. Groundwork is laid with a teeth-rattling riff, decibels drop for a bass exposition and an interstellar jam sesh, which then builds back out into a grinding roar. But it works well, and makes the scant divergences all the more rewarding. Take for instance, the dusty guitar twang that emerges from the midsection of “Neptune”, where Earth’s brutal blues pacing and a tree nymph female vocalist make for a witchy Morricone ambience. It’s the sort of staggering moment that makes it easy to come for the mammoth riffs, but stay for the stretches when Ancestors take “far out” even further.

- Robbie Mackey, October 7, 2008

Metal Maniacs – Neptune With Fire review

Metal Edge – Neptune With Fire review

Giant Robot – Neptune With Fire review

Giant Robot

Revolver – Neptune With Fire review

Chart Attack – Neptune With Fire review

CD Cover 2

ANCESTORS Neptune With Fire (Tee Pee) Sludge is pretty easy to come by, but it’s always best served with plodding drums, impossibly dissonant guitars and a doom-laden disposition.  Ancestors posses all three things and Neptune With Fire is a heavy bevy of sooty hate.  The band take cues from the grimy guys in the Melvins and Sleep, and tune down, way down, to create music with an incredibly dense bottom end. It’s heavy as hell and also gives props to bands like Slint for their use of shifting dynamics and precision playing.  Unsurprisingly, every song is incredibly drawn out, so just getting through a single track is a bit of a chore. Luckily, anybody delving into Ancestors would likely be predisposed to this sort of music, so the band should find a receptive audience if they play their cards right.  Cameron Gordon

Decibel – Neptune With Fire review

Rock Sound – Neptune With Fire review

Hex Ed – Neptune With Fire review

Of the hundreds of bands attempting to create heavy, intense, and moody space rock, I would say the percentage that can pull it off is only slightly higher than the number of rabid dogs that make it out of a kill shelter. The Los Angeles quintet Ancestors rise above the numbers and deliver the gargantuan Neptune With Fire.
In a fashion somewhat akin to San Francisco band Citay, Ancestors dive into the classical stylings of heavy music. Where Citay tone down using the monsters of the past as starting off points to create a more subdued (but still awesome!) sound, Ancestors charge into these two songs, giving nods to Pentagram, Black Sabbath, The Melvins and King Crimson. As the band creates peaks and valleys, you almost find yourself thinking they are re-creating soundtracks to some of Dario Argento’s 1970′s horror masterpieces.
In recognizing these influences, and sculpting them into 2 epic tracks, Ancestors create music that can only really be experienced with the shades drawn, and the headphones on.

LA Record – Ancestors Interview


Dan Monick

Ancestors tangled with a deer in the dead of night and won on the way to SXSW. Tee Pee is re-releasing their clinically epic Neptune With Fire. They speak now on the way to rehearsal.

What interesting people did you meet when you had to hitchhike to Austin after you hit a deer and totaled your van on the way to SXSW?
Brandon Pierce (drums): Leatherface’s cousin came with one tooth and one arm. We went with this pop-punk band from Orange County with a GPS system, but Leatherface’s cousin offered to take us to a town where it was actually just Leatherface’s house. But we went with the pop-punk band.
How do you turn down a ride from Leatherface’s cousin?
B: We used the Englishman. It was less awkward.
Chico Foley (vocals/electronics): I think he muttered under his breath—‘You guys’ll taste like haggis.’
Where’s the van now?
Justin Maranga (guitar/vocals): Still there.
C: It was three days old. We got it three days before the crash.
B: It had TVs and shit.
J: We were watching Live At Pompeii when we hit the deer. I was sitting far in the back like ‘What the fuck?! What the fuck?!’ And then I was thinking, ‘Chico, open the fucking door—the van is filling with white crap!’ The airbags. I thought maybe I was gonna die? I didn’t know what was going on. And Chico couldn’t open the door because doors in Europe are different.
Because of the metric system?
J: Apparently they open counter-clockwise. But we got out and sat in the freezing cold.
C: Until the policeman shows up and steps out of the car and says, ‘Which one of you all is the deerslayer?’
B: His car was really warm—I napped in there.
J: While we all sat outside and froze our asses. We kept warm with the heat of Tweak Bird.
Did you rub them together?
C: Yes, that’s a lot of friction.
B: I was going through my records to put them in my closet and I found our hitchhike sign—SXSW OR BUST—and the enormous wolf dreamcatcher we had hanging from the rear-view mirror obstructing the view, which could have contributed to hitting the deer.
Did you write Neptune With Fire in two suites because you knew it would one day be on a vinyl record?
J: I’ve always wanted to have something on vinyl. Like a million other guys, I’m a record nerd. The plan was if we found a label, we were basically gonna demand vinyl—especially because of the length of the songs. How could you not? We’re all drawn to writing long songs because you can cram as much as you want in it. You don’t have to stop writing as long as you can link it together. You don’t wanna put the kibosh on ideas because the song is getting too long. When stuff is flowing, fuck it—keep going.
What was the early three-piece Ancestors like?
J: Basically a vehicle for me to jerk off on guitar for 45 minutes.
B: To play as long as possible the same riff over and over again. It was very carefree. Masturbatory doom-sludge-stoner shit. And with the addition of members, we started to hone something.
But you won’t ever forget your masturbatory roots?
B: Fuck no—we still masturbate on stage.
C: As long as you’re not drinking tap water, or you’ll get too much estrogen and have trouble wanking. Men are slowly developing breast tissues and losing the ability to make wanking solos.
What’s working with Arik Roper like?
C: He’s an amazing guy who’s heavily into the things you’d think we was into.
J: He and Chico went into an intense philosophical discussion while drinking a lot of booze.
C: A joined appreciation for Thelema and maybe other things I shouldn’t mention.
Neptune gets a lot of comments for its cinematic feel—are you soundtracking as you write?
J: I’m always soundtracking 8 1⁄2 in my head.
That’s like two questions ahead.
J: But it would be a lot of fun to do that. We’ll sometimes come up with a theme and soundtrack it.
Like what—love, fate, murder?
J: No—how cheesy is that? Sometimes if we come up with an idea of what we want the song to be about, the song will try and reflect what that story is. In Neptune, it’d be a lie to say we came up with the theme ahead of time like we are doing now. But I don’t wanna say anything about the new shit. If we had come up with the idea for Neptune before—War, Revelation, Celebration—we would have written the music accordingly.
C: We take an approach that’s fitting as much as possible to the sound. With the new record, it’s a stringent premise, or a premise that has been going into the songs. It’s definitely a step forward.
J: The Michelangelo approach.
I was just going to say that.
C: You are the voice in my head, are you not?
Hacking away slabs of rock.
J: And rock it is.
So what is the new stuff?
J: We’re going for four songs this time. A tiny bit shorter. Twelve to fifteen minutes and probably some interludes in between—acoustic and piano and what have you. Thematically shifting directions. More coming up with an overall theme and a story and going with that—definitely coming up with stories.
How do you come up with stories?
C: You have to take some drugs and stuff.
J: It also helps to have a crazy British guy. We have to make it abstract enough that it can be told with minimal lyrics, and the music can tell part of the story, otherwise we’d have to explain it to everbody. People get what Neptune is about, which is cool—there’s not much there lyrically, and it’s not like we’ve been telling everybody, but all we had to do is put four words in the layout and they got it.
What is the best concept album that does not have any distorted guitar on it?
C: Nektar—Journey to the Center of the Eye?
B: I’m cool with that—that was a big fucking thing in making the band.
J: How about Sketches of Spain? A very loose theme, but an approach—the first song is one of my favorite of all time. Without distorted guitar, but very good thematics.
B: Folkwise—Townes Van Zandt’s self-titled I think is really great. Very personal songs—they could be telling his story.
Are you pursuing the brown note when you play live?
J: We definitely make people nauseous—I’ve been told that a lot. Especially in smaller rooms.
B: After you’ve all watched Live At Pompeii 50,000 times together—that’s an intimate experience—you see all the gear and you’re like, ‘Fuck, I need that shit!’
What does the death-metal band who practices across from you think of your music?
J: The nu-metal band or the band that was legit death metal? The legit death-metal band was Reciprocal—who were fucking awesome, by the way. They were way into us. And we were way into them, so it worked. The new guy across the hall is always coming over like, ‘Wanna go to a titty bar?’
B: They’re terrible—his band sounds like Powerman 5000.
How did a band of atheists get booked to play a fest organized by a Jewish magazine?
C: We all love satirical publications.
Is Judaism is the most satirical religion?
C: Being all atheists, I’ve heard Heeb is for intellectual young Jews, but being self-proclaimed idiots, we haven’t read it much! They contacted Tony at Tee Pee and he forwarded it to us. The magazine is cool—it looks like a good thing. It’s gonna be like a Western Religion education class at school. Different opinions, but we can all hold hands and rejoice!
What’s the next religion you’d like to work with?
J: I hope it’s Scientology. Big parties.
C: And a bunch of idiots who might like our sound.

Heavy Metal Time Machine – Ancestors interview

Ancestors interview


Ancestors hail from southern California and play a style that includes doom, stoner and various other sounds all swirled together. I recently got to interview to find out more.

First let me say that your Neptune with fire album is just amazing. So please introduce yourselves and tell what instrument you play.
Justin: I’m Justin and I play guitar and sing.
Nick: I’m Nick and I play bass.
Jason: I’m Jason and I play organ.
Chico: I’m Chico and I do noise and ambiance as well as vocals.

Tell us a little about your band’s history.
Justin: We initially formed as a three-piece: just bass, drums and guitar. We played a few shows with very loosely written songs that were mostly just “stoner rock” jams. We tired of it fairly quickly and were eager for additional inspiration. We were looking for an organ player, but during our search Chico fell into our laps and starting adding the soundscape type elements to the music. Eventually Jason joined the band as our organ player and it just took off from there.

Who are your musical influences?
Justin: Our influences are pretty diverse, but some are definitely more prevalent than others. I’d say that Pink Floyd and King Crimson are probably our biggest influences. As for others in the prog/psych realm would have to include Nektar, Hawkwind, Agitation Free, Arzachel, Amon Düül II, Rush, Gong, Ash Ra Tempel, etc. More experimentally, and I know I can speak for both Chico and I when I say, Lars Gunnar Bodin, Stockhausen, Luc Ferrari, John Cage, Schaeffer and the whole musique concrète movement have been a big influence on the more abstract and ambient aspects of our music. And as far as the more modern influences, stuff like Neurosis, Sleep and Kyuss are probably the most obvious choices.
Jason: I am a classical pianist and I like a lot of Russian romantic/modern composers. I like a lot of heavy music and all the stuff that Justin just said.

What are some of your favorite albums of 2008 so far?
Justin: Tweak Bird – Whorses 7″; Graveyard – Graveyard; Annihilation Time – III: Tales of the Ancient Age; REM – Accelerate
Nick: I haven’t really been paying attention to new music lately. Although I’m digging the new Melvins record. Tweak Bird’s Whorses 7? is killer, too.
Jason: I dont listen to much new music, however, I’m pretty stoked that we get to play with a lot of the bands who are actually putting stuff out that I like a lot like Earthless and Graveyard.

Who have you opened for? What have been some of your more memorable shows so far?
Justin: We’ve played a lot of great shows. We’ve opened for a lot of incredible bands like Earthless, High on Fire, Today Is the Day, Saviours, Witch, DMBQ, Black Cobra, Lesbian, etc. Our most memorable shows tend to be the shows we play at The Smell. They’re always a great time and we always play with really great bands like Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound and Tweak Bird.
Nick: The Smell is great, we fit perfectly in that place. It’s also much more loose as far as set times etc.. it’s not a “Rush your ass off to set up, or cut into your own set time.” Type thing, like Hollywood venues we’ve played.
Jason: I was pretty excited to play with Today Is the Day. They had been one of my favorite bands since high school, they were totally brutal.

Are you all from Southern California or are you originally from other places?
Justin: I’m originally from Southern California.
Nick: I’m from Colorado but moved to Southern California when I was 19 with my band at the time.
Jason: Southern California.
Chico: I’m originally from London. I only moved to Los Angeles about two years and a half ago.

You have two songs on your album. How did the writing process go for the album? Did you plan from the start on just doing two songs or did you just work that out along the way?
Justin: We have a tendency to write long songs by nature. We have a lot of ideas flowing out constantly and have never seen a reason to cut off the ideas just because a song is getting long. A long song only feels long if you let it get stale, and we’re always trying our best to keep the songs from getting stale. Initially we were just writing songs to write songs, with no real thought as to what we were going to do with them. As the concepts started to come together we began to realize that a two song record would probably be ideal and that it would give us a lot of breathing room within each song.

What are your songs about? Where do you get the inspirations for your song topics?
Chico: The songs have so far been about endeavors within the human condition, in particular the egocentric and the dumbfounded. Until now, they have played upon the much expected platform of mythology, which I’m avidly in favour of abandoning for the context of the next record.


How do you think that your band has progressed since you first started out?
Justin: Our music has definitely gotten more progressive. We’re less focused on being heavy, which I think just comes naturally at this point, and much more focused on making interesting and intricate songs. The newer songs have more of an ebb and flow and moves a bit more than the songs on Neptune. And as far as the music prior to Neptune, it’s much more cohesive. The jams became songs. That’s not to say that we no longer jam, but it’s no longer the foundation of our music.
Nick: I think we’ve always been in a good environment where we tend to push each other to play better and take it to the next level. It’s completely natural. It’s just the order of how the five of us write together.
Jason: Everyone has gotten more used to each other but everyone has also gotten a lot better as individual musicians recently.

In what areas do you think that you still need to improve?
Justin: I think we could always get tighter. And as we progress we continue to develop what seems like our own sound, but we’ll never be truly satisfied until we get to the point where you could walk into a room and hear an Ancestors song that you’ve never heard and say “this is Ancestors.” If you were to hear an AC/DC song you’ve never heard, you would still know that it was AC/DC, despite the fact that they’re a rock and roll band and most rock and roll bands sound relatively similar.
Nick: We’re constantly learning how to balance our own critiques of our music and see clearly what works and what doesn’t. It’s a balancing act that only experience can teach.Jason: Levels are tough to balance when your band is ungodly loud.

What are you doing that sets you apart from other bands going today?
Justin: I would like to think that we have our own way of approaching the style that we play, whatever you want to call it. A lot of bands have similar influences, but I think that we implement them in our own way and that hopefully sets us apart. There is an ever growing “stoner rock” and “doom metal” scene and we’re growing increasingly more tired of the idea of being just a “doom metal” band. I hope that people will see us as more than that. But in the end, we’re making music to please ourselves so that’s all that really matters in the grand scheme.

Is this the only band that all of you are in or are any of you in any side projects as well?
Justin: Brandon and I are in a rock and roll band called Night Horse with the former vocalist from Bluebird.
Nick: I have a one man drone project called Bruinen.
Jason: When I get home I play jazz piano in my underwear to my cat.

I know you have a few dates coming up in your area. Any plans for more in the near future? Are gas prices forcing you to think about where you can really afford to travel to play at?
Justin: We’re playing Diamond Days Festival in Oakland on July 19. Gas prices have definitely put a damper on potential tour plans, though we do hope to get on the road a bit this winter. Until then we’ll probably continue our sporadic Los Angeles shows and occasionally take a weekend to go out of town for a couple of shows here and there.


What other interests do you have besides music?
Justin: I’m in law school and I work, so I don’t really have time for other interests with two bands. I like movies?
Nick: I like to party.
Jason: I don’t get out much.

Pick the band from each of the following pair that you prefer and tell why you picked them.
Captain Beyond or Sir Lord Baltimore
Justin: Fuck that’s hard…I’m not sure I could pick which one I like more, so I’m just going to go with Sir Lord Baltimore because I get all pumped up when I listen to them.
Nick: I’d have to go with Captain Beyond, because their rhythms and song structures are a little more complex than Sir Lord Baltimore. Though both bands are excellent.

King Crimson or Pink Floyd
Justin: That’s even harder. I’m not even going to answer that one because it would change depending on my mood. They’re even in my book as two of my all-time favorite bands.
Nick: That is really difficult. Especially considering both bands have had such a significant impact on our music. I think I’d have to go with Crimson in terms of experimentation.

Electric Wizard or Sleep
Justin: Sleep, hands down. I like Electric Wizard, but Sleep introduced me to the whole stoner rock thing and introduced the world to Matt Pike and that guy is a monster on guitar (aside from Asbestosdeath, but whatever).
Nick: Sleep!

Black Sabbath or Hawkwind
Justin: I love Hawkwind, but Black Sabbath is more timeless, so I definitely have to choose them.
Nick: Black Sabbath. They defined heavy.

Is there anything else you would like to say about your band or your music?
Justin: Not really, thanks for listening and taking the time to interview us.
Nick: I’m good. Thanks again.

Blog San Diego – Neptune With Fire review

Ancestors – Neptune with Fire (North Atlantic Sound / TeePee Records) Keith Boyd 7.28.8
Holy kettles of doom! All hail the ascendant heirs to the throne of heaviosity. Ancestors debut album is an on-point, meisterwerk of epic, psychedelic lava. White hot and buzzing riffs burrow into your glandular system and explode. You melt into the tidal push of their attack. Just at the point where you finally become one with the sound, a corner is turned and the whole swirling juggernaut floats into the neutral buoyancy of deep space.
“Neptune with Fire” is the first outing from this LA band and it’s an appropriate title. The heat here emerges from the depths of a great watery unknown. Masterful hands of restraint guide and push these two epics through several cycles of sound. Applying Joseph Campbell’s framework of myth, “Neptune with Fire” tells the tale of a hero going through stages of; war, celebration, remorse and revelation. While this format might give some a Tolkienesque pause, I’d say wait a bit and examine this cycle within the context of your own life. It’s a human story writ large. Like Beowulf and Grendel or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the battle is actually an internal one. It’s the tale about coming of age, facing one’s demons, being shattered by the experience, and then somehow reassembling one’s psyche and moving forward into life. Is this too much to ask from a heavy metal record? I say it isn’t and Ancestors pulls it off with a depth and flourish that transcends their newbie status. The solid playing and excellent production are a testament to the band’s chops and musical knowledge. There are nods on this to everyone from Pentagram to Goblin to Hawkwind. While this history may inform Ancestors approach, this is no retro affair. The tonality and concepts propelling this music make it somehow timeless.
A final word must be said about the visionary cover artist Arik “Moonhawk” Roper. I have been following his work for several years now and it just gets better all the time. He is the standard bearer for such luminaries as Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta while carving out his own style. Along with his mythic characters, what has really been impressive are the layered, dark palette areas of smoky and watery space. This has been evidenced on covers for Howlin Rain to posters for SUNNO))), and on this album the effect is both exciting and complementary. Kudos to North Atlantic Sound / TeePee for putting out this awesome and heavy-hitting package.

Roadburn – Neptune With Fire review

CD - TeePee Records]

LA-based quintet Ancestors head off into third-eye territory on their amazing debut for TeePee Records affiliate North Atlantic Sound. The thing I like the most about the Ancestors is their manipulation of the musical vibe — alternating between Sleep’s heavy riffing and lysergic freak-outs. Ancestors take the listener on a trip to a place where space is heavy and sound is all that matters. Factor in some strategic organ textures here and there, and you’ve got an album with more dimensions than you know what to do with, just the way the Ancestors planned it. Blast off!

Foxy Digitalis – Neptune With Fire review

9 out of 10
Man, what the hell is going on? All the joy I once derived from writing about music has just evaporated. Is it me? The last few months have been pretty rough, but fuck, it’s not like I’m living in a warzone or the middle of a natural disaster. It’s just like there are no words left any more and no ways to string them together to try to explain how I feel about this album, or that one, or the next one; nothing makes much sense and there seems to be very little point trying. Argh. Argh, I tell you.

None of this is Ancestors’ fault, though. In fact, hearing their debut LP “Neptune With Fire” has been one of the highlights of the past little while. Ancestors is a five piece doom metal ensemble hailing from Los Angeles and this is what their press-kit would have you know about them:

Ancestors transmogrifies the epic nature of seventies psychedelic and progressive music into a form that also incorporates vintage, doom and drone metal. “Neptune With Fire” is a conceptual, two track record that tells of a metaphorical character and his cosmic, psychological ordeal through war, celebration, remorse and revelation. Combining the embrace of the grand storytelling featured in conceptual space and psychedelic rock song-writing, the soul of hard rock and vintage metal, and the transmundane ethic of epic, “Neptune With Fire” induces catastrophic experiences in the listener.

A little O.T.T. to be sure, but… I pretty much support everything said there. This sound is STRONG, yo. And one of the important things about Ancestors is that they’re a five-piece; not only does this make for a more full-on, cosmic sound-production in general, but between them two of the members – Chico Foley and J. Christopher Watkins – contribute “textural incarnations, vocals, and organ”. These textural and organ-ic contributions are quite innovative and very, very pleasing to my ears; probably even what sets “Neptune With Fire” apart. Otherwise think ‘classic’, though, cos this album is a stone-cold rock classic. Listening to it I’m constantly reminded of the wonders of early-70s Kraut heavy-psych. I’m thinking Gäa, I’m thinking Brainticket, I’m thinking Wallenstein, Gila, and even Ash Ra Tempel. Not to say that they are some kinda throwback band – there’re elements here of the best in Kyuss-like stoner groove-rock riffage and totally now-sounding psych (Mamatus, Om) as well as some doom-sludge-snarl with GREAT sounding guitars — possibly the crunchiest downtuned chug I can remember for, like, forever. But then the last section busts out the heavy prog psych crescendo moves a la Yes or Pink Floyd at their glorious best and you can’t help but be transported away on the wings of their transcendent noise.

Ever since I first listened to this record I have been frozen in the worst kind of writer’s block. Perhaps this IS Ancestor’s fault. Was that the “catastrophic experience” which was induced in me, and then reinforced as I’ve listened to this album countless times since? If so, then fuck it. In fact, I must offer my thanks to them. “Neptune With Fire” is actually pretty close to being perfect, and rousing myself from my torpor, forcing myself up and at ‘em and back to work to write this while it’s playing loudly in my cans has been a challenging but ultimately very rewarding trip.

Hey also, do look out for the gatefold vinyl with art by Arik Roper (Sleep’s “Dopesmoker” and Earth’s “The Bee Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull”). 9/10 — Stephen Clover (25 June, 2008)

Heavy Metal Time Machine – Neptune With Fire review

Heavy Metal Time Machine
So often I hear a few minutes of a disc and sigh as I realize that it’s doing nothing new and even though it may be well played, it’s just hard to get past a lack of originality. Yet sometimes a band can take established influences, tweak them enough and get the arrangement going in such a way that it comes across as feeling surprisingly fresh. Even if the tones are very similar, the way they are presented helps it to take on a life of it’s own. The Ancestors fortunately fall into that second category on “Neptune with fire”. I was somewhat wary when I saw just two tracks listed on this disc because with just two both really have to be good for the album to be good overall. As far as influences they touch upon the bare bone heaviness of Sabbath, the subtlety of Pentagram and the raw primal sludge of Sleep. As if that was not enough they can produce off the cuff jams and still absolutely fit in with whole feel of the song. Both tracks are fairly long, but it’s like the band keeps the ideas coming from all directions. They manage to squeeze so much out of individual notes and manipulate simple parts into feeling like they are doing so much. Their knack for twisting singular sounds into long winding passages is almost unbelievable. The style ties in parts of early metal, solid doom and some stoner elements yet more than anything you just get a sense that they are doing the music that they love. This is an album that manages to be heavy, dark, intriguing and exciting all at once. Seriously no real complaints at all, this is truly an exceptional piece of thickly layered metal that will enthrall your mind and you have hooked after one play.

Abort Magazine – Neptune With Fire review

CD Review – Ancestors
Neptune With Fire
North Atlantic Sound
Slaves to the riff take heed, the debut album from L.A.’s Ancestors entitled Neptune With Fire is here and it wants your soul. Of course you’ll gladly give it over when you hear this riff laden psychedelic opus and its multi-layered, thick, progressive doom, culled straight from the seventies and blasted through every essence of your being.

Conceptual in its construction, this immersive aural experience consists of two tracks (clocking in at 16:41 and 21:39 respectively) which meander from one riff to the next with fluid grace and effortless timing. Opening track “Orcus’ Avarice” has an initial jam feel to it, but plays out like a road “trip” through your subconscious, while title track “Neptune With Fire” takes the listener on the cosmic journey of a mythical character and the trials and tribulations inherent in that journey. Each of these tracks plays out like multiple songs meshed together with instrumental interludes, reminiscent of stoner doom bands like Sleep, Green Milk From the Planet Orange and Sons of Otis.

Although elements of doom metal are present in Neptune With Fire, this album is not predominantly “doom” in nature. By fusing styles and genres, Ancestors owe more “props” to Pink Floyd than Black Sabbath, with their organ and vocal work giving this album a modern classic feel. Add to that some of the most intricate and sweeping guitar and bass work, “textural incarnations” and drumming second to none and this one album holds more power and grace than most artists scrape together in a whole career.

With sludge factors set on high, Neptune With Fire takes the pure enjoyment of riff soaked nods to the past and breaths new life into a genre set adrift by speed and repetition.

Outburn – Neptune With Fire review

Outburn review – Neptune With Fire review

Like most modern doom/stoner/drone metal bands, Ancestors take high cues from Sleep. Their debut release for North Atlantic Sound, the new imprint by the founder of Tee Pee Records and the bassist from Witch, is comprised of only two tracks. It does, however, run about 40 minutes long. Be prepared to strap on your headphones — this could get to be a long and groovacious journey. It might also help if your hobby lends you the same title as Sleep’s “lost album.”

The self-titled track starts with some crusty heavy metal grooves, bringing back the early `70s and gelling with the current revival of heavy metal the way it was meant to be played: loud, heavy and full of head-nodding riffs. Given that the song is almost 17 minutes long, gratuitous guitar solos are indeed present. Around six minutes into the song, things fade out into some psychedelic atmospheric noises and the slow burn settles in. I hope you like more guitar solos and gradual build with tempo and dynamics. The song ends with some huge and grandiose guitars, lots of noise, pounding rhythms and some shouting over distorted bass.

As a basic structure, the song is well-written. The theme is established immediately with the heavy riffs, deconstructs to some noisey ambient solos with a steady psychedelic bass groove, and then implements a return to form.

“Orcus’ Avarice” starts out with a much less generic, semi-melodic super heavy guitar riff over slow drums and shouting. The tempo picks up into a late `60s psychedelic rock tune, taking just as much from bands like the Yardbirds and Cream as it does from Sabbath. Matching cues from the previous track, the middle span contains more ambient work with the instruments and soloing, building on melodic bass chords and tribal sounding tom rhythms. The song also explores more empty ambient noise and single guitar riffs played quietly before the return to the loud and heavy.

I have to look at this release like I look at most instrumental music. There’s only so much I can take. No matter how much I want to love a piece of classical music, I get bored easily. But an impressive debut this is, and a fantastic orchestration deserves credit when credit is due. I just might not be listening to the album from start to finish that often.

3 ½ stars

Road Recs – Neptune With Fire review

Los Angeles based psychedelic stoner rock outfit dish up a truly awesome two track concept album sounding like the meeting of Earthless and Sleep’s truly amazing dopesmoker album. In fact the artwork is provided by Arik Roper who also did the original art for sleeps legendary album. This album is slighly more leaning towards the psychedelic stoner rock side of things though with two very lengthy tracks packed to exploding with guitar heavy riff action and fuzzed up solos. The album is released on Tee Pee Records offshoot label North Atlantic Sound. Its a wonderfully hypnotic collection of sounds deeply rooted in the classic early sounds of stoner rock and really calls to mind some of the earlier sounds of the legendary Desert Sessions on the Mans Ruin label. A must have for fans of the likes of Kyuss and the above mentioned Sleep album Dopesmoker. limited edition vinyl pressing in a gatefold sleeve.
April 2008

LA Record – Neptune With Fire review

I first listened to this record just before six in the morning while driving through the foggy Sepulveda pass and the setting couldn’t have been more apt. Neptune is moody and dark, and over the course of two lengthy tracks I was treated to a soundtrack worthy of an early morning trek across Southern California’s freeways. Ancestors cover a lot of ground, from heavy down-tuned riffing to doom-style drone dirges, soothing post rock and loud psychedelic freak-outs. With some bands, this would lead to a disjointed listening experience, but Ancestors avoid that trap, even when referencing the clean guitar lines of the more recent releases by Earth or the organ and distortion driven psych-attack of the bands in the Acid Mothers Temple universe. (In fact, if they ever collaborate, “Ancestor Mothers Temple” sound like a pretty great side project title.) I think this album will appeal to fans of any of the above mentioned genres and artists, but also to those who don’t have the patience to sit through a 70-minute drone album, especially if they’d prefer to hear something more along the lines of a well-paced epic soundtrack.

— Adam Fisher

Metal Hammer – Neptune With Fire review

MEtal HAmmer

LA Times – SXSW Show review

SXSW TeePee Showcase – 3/12/08


…Even though it was 1 a.m., the good vibes from those last three shows kept me going. I wanted to see one more band, but I didn’t know where to go. On one side of the street, the kids were lined up to check out The Black Keys; on the other, people were lined up for someone else, but through the fog, I heard a dirty, scary, evil sound coming out of Bourbon Rocks.

Turned out it was Ancestors ending the night of the Tee Pee Records showcase. Tee Pee is the home of the J Mascis side project Witch (in which the greatest guitarist alive plays drums).

Witch looks like two nephews of ZZ Top (very short blond hair, creepy long beards and poker faces) on guitar and bass, two dudes with their backs to the crowd on keyboards (one plays organ, the other does special effects and noise) and a drummer in the middle of it all keeping it raw.

When I arrived, the gritty, demonic rhythms had seduced a local music fan, who continually threw up the devil horns and danced drunkenly to the mostly instrumental hard rock laced with soot, brimstone and church organ. It was awesome. Truly the reason to stay out late at SXSW.

And that was just Day 1.

– Photos and post by Tony Pierce

Boom Kat – Neptune With Fire review

LA doom metal quintet Ancestors are a lot more prog than most of the sludge vendors who populate the genre. For a start this album is divided into two long pieces, each around the twenty minute mark, with its own discreet sub-sections (movements, if you will), at least one of which involves some operatic female vocals. That sounds like prog to me, anyway. The heaviness quotient remains high though, with plenty of low-end grit on ‘Neptune With Fire’ and a more vintage, blues rock influenced sound on ‘Orcus Avarice’, which based on my understanding of the title is about a greedy whale. There’s probably a quarter hour’s worth of guitar soloing on this track, which might be a bit too traditionalist in tone for some of you connoisseurs of outlandish fuzz experiments, but the bottom-heavy riffing makes up for whatever biting edge the protracted lead parts occasionally lack.

Art Rocker – Neptune With Fire review

Rory Carroll investigates a conceptual heavy rock album about ‘cosmic war’. But wait! keep reading! Because instead of being a three hour double vinyl about vikings and goblins, it’s apparently quite a lean and catchy LP. Curious? Find out more here…

LA five-piece Ancestors may have pitched their tent in the ‘doom-metal’ camp, but you’d do well to re-evaluate any pre-existing notions of exactly what this stands for. Those expecting gruff, shouted vocals and rampant, chugging guitars are in for a pleasant surprise.

Whilst these elements are present, they have been melded with the psychedelic and progressive music of the 1970s to produce a concept album which, if you believe the press release, is a two-track odyssey chronicling a metaphorical character’s ‘cosmic, psychological ordeal through war, celebration, remorse and revelation.’

None of this is immediately evident from the first two songs, but then that’s the wonder of poetic licence… and copious amounts of drugs. This album would undoubtedly benefit from some kind of story synopsis in the sleeve notes, but the application of this rough framework does add a new depth to the songs and successfully clarifies the emotions emphasised by the ever changing wall of guitars.

Ancestors’ other great success – and this is something Thurston Moore would do well to remember – is that despite the epic nature of the tracks, you are never painfully aware of how long you’ve spent listening to them. There’s a subtle ebb and flow to the songs, with each movement serving a purpose and furthering the story.

As with all ‘concept’ albums, the true meaning behind the music will only be fully understood by the people who created it. However, if you can see through the mildly tedious ‘story behind the story’ you’ll quickly realise that this is anything but art for art’s sake; it’s actually theatre set to music.

++ Rory Carroll ++

Artrocker rating: 3

Pittsburgh Daily News – Neptune With Fire review

Musique Machine – Neptune With Fire review

Ancestors – Neptune With Fire [North Atlantic Sound - 2008]

Ancestors are a five piece band from Los Angeles who play a memorable and epic, mid-pace to up-beat mix of 70’s soaked doom, jammed-out rock grooves & psychedelics, with touches of more modern doom and metal here and there. Neptune With Fire is their debut album and the first release on new label North Atlantic sound.

Running just shy of forty minute mark in all, but with just two huge doom grooved-out, psychedelic soaked, rocking and hypnotic tracks on offer. The title track opens up proceedings with a nice up-beat rocking doom riff and fairly standard throaty rock vocals, sounding a bit like an clear American version of Electric Wizards more up paced moments. Then it drops into a rather nice racing down the track guitar soloing groove, before dropping into a bassy and spacey groove break down before slowly winding it’s self up to more soloing before the vocals come in one last time as the track nears it’s end at the 17 minute mark.

Lastly we have Orcus’ Avarice which is the lengthier of the two tracks at just over 20 minutes & having more variation in sound than the first track too. Starting out with a great memorable church organ opening before kick in with a slower doom-rock groove weaved with halloween organ tones. As the track progresses it goes through all manner of twist and turns down into clear vocal bassy rock passages, rocking freak outs & stripped down moments. All finishing off with a superb and soaring mix of female choir like voices, organ and emotional touched & cinematic doomy rock vibe- pretty amazing stuff really.

An highly enjoyable and replayable debut album- that shows great future hope for both Ancestors and north Atlantic sound label.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Advance Copy – Neptune With Fire review

Ancestors: Neptune With Fire
(North Atlantic Sound)
release: February 19, 2008
style: psychedelic sludge hard rock
similar: Danava, The Gersch, Graveyard
[rating: ?????] One of the best names ever for a band of this nature, Ancestors’ two quests here are a journey into a mystical place and time. Neptune is actually a conceptual outing for this L.A. band, about somebody going through a “psychological ordeal of war, celebration, remorse and reveleation”. The first track is mainly a jam session of spooky guitar voodoo and some lyrics about the earth and soul or something. Following pipe organ on the second track (21 minutes!) is ultra sludge guitar riffs processed through the atmosphere of another planet. This does go on for a while and becomes repetitive, though of course at the same time tripped out. –Kenyon

Mojo Magazine – Neptune With Fire review