‘Age of Ascendancy’, released just this month, is the work of Sydney based band Tamerlan Empire, which consists of drummer & founder Khan, Ghorr on guitar & vocals, Ferus also on guitar, & Vezir on keys. The band came about back in 2010 & has since released now two albums, the first being their demo ‘Isfahan’s Fall’ back in 2016. Having originally been named just Tamerlan, the band got their inspiration from Turkish/Mongol warlord Tamerlane (aka Timur), & you can certainly see the influence of such themes throughout their work.
The album begins with a short album title intro track, “Age of Ascendancy“, which shows the heavy Middle Eastern theme with a minute & a half of traditional acoustic symphonic build up one would find in a soundtrack, it brings me to the visualization of the calm before the war amidst the sand dunes. To follow suit the next track Battle of Tyrants is a continuation of the last in terms of melody then superbly layering black metal drums & vocals on top to give a very epic evil vibe to the majesty already established.
“Vengeance in Blood” starts with a short heavy riff leading into a very melody heavy bridge. Utilising fast black metal beats as well as malevolent vocals throughout including periods of epic melody based guitar & symphonic periods. The track concludes with a hard & fast riff and kick combo soon coming to an abrupt end.
“Ottoman’s Demise” begins like that of a death or thrash track would with slow thick riffs & drums that won’t quick but when the melody of the song begins again you can certainly feel the vibe of the album return though in this song the Middle Eastern elements are slightly more understated & it focuses more on a harsher more traditional black metal feel, that is, until the last minute or so of the song which incorporates a little bit more of a death style with acoustic Middle Eastern accents between beats, then leading out with the harsh black metal vocal used previously. The next track “Ascension of Iron” is not dissimilar in sound though certainly has a fairly more monumental feel to it.
“Behest of the Chosen” is the peak of the album, being the 6th & therefore middle track, it begins in a very different way to the rest of the album, with very traditional acoustic Middle Eastern instruments used in the intro for well over a minute to lead into the track, slowly building to an inevitable heavy metal sound, this track does a bit more story telling than the rest of the album, focusing on the lyrics more than overpowering instrumental work. That is, until the brutal black metal feel returns halfway through the track, accompanied by masterful used melodic overtone. A period of silence befalls the listener before a symphonic wave of excellence returns in full force with a lead out to the track not unlike how it came in to being to begin with, traditional acoustic Eastern sounds layered with a simple guitar to complement.
“Winter March” begins with a symphonic string of emotion escorted by a soft march that is soon augmented with a true marching beat & not long after accompanied by the full force of black vocals & heavy guitar. The war theme this album is going for is certainly solidified in this track, the emotion & brutality conveyed throughout the rises & falls of the track is phenomenal, truly an enchanting track & impressive addition to the album. “Dominion of Ashes” heads harder into the full dark and devastating black metal vibe than the track before it, with accents of Eastern instruments but not swaying too far into the overly folky symphonic feel demonstrated in the rest of the album. Next we have “Marauders Mark“, which goes about their sound in a similar manner, a very brutal black metal style complimented by occasional folk accompaniments such as noteworthy woodwind periods surfacing periodically from mid to the end of track. “Of Dust Returned” begins with the same symphonic yet somehow raw black feel with brief Eastern melodic bridges here and there. “Scattered Sands” then brings a brilliant end to the impressive album, truly showcasing the diversity of the band, the raw emotion of the outro given is undoubtedly outstanding.
‘Age of Ascendancy’ is a masterful blend of symphonic black metal & Middle Eastern vibe, how they manage to balance such a traditional Eastern folk sound with Western black metal in any way is a feat in of itself as it is not an easy task to bring such strong Eastern & Western elements together without it sounding off, so to do so with such success almost brought me to tears. I can easily see this album going into my top 10 at the end of 2018.