When I was in high school I wandered into a great record by the name of Blackwater Park. I had only heard of Opeth and was floored to hear the way they transitioned from crushingly heavy metal to delicate prog rock. Since then they have become one of my favorite bands and I have been pleased with their shift into a complete prog band. Other popular bands like Mastodon and Baroness have taken similar routes, leaving behind their heaviest moments to make more soothing radio friendly rock/metal without sounding like a bunch of sellouts.

I had been hearing Vancouver's Anciients compared to all of these bands for a little while now so I jumped at the chance to check out Heart Of Oak. Right away I could tell I made the right decision. I absolutely love this record.

If you were disappointed by Baroness abandoning most of their heavier moments on Yellow & Green than Heart Of Oak may be a good supplemental album. Before they even break the two minute mark they incorporate their heaviness and alternate vocals between a gentle singing and harsh screams. The music follows the same pattern diving between graceful prog passages to pulverizing doom inspired sections and everything in between. A lot of this reminds me of East Of The Wall the way they transition from jazzy segments to brutal metal. I could go on and on about mixing the contemporary with metal, but I think it is getting redundant.

With song structures like those found on this record, the tracks require an extended length. Only one interlude stays below the six minute mark. While that would usually be a little troubling for me I don't find myself losing interest before each song ends. I think that speaks highly of the quality of the material to stay entertaining for such a lengthened period.

If you are into bands like Opeth, Baroness, Mastodon or East Of The Wall I can't imagine you not liking this. This is one of my favorite records of 2013 so far and I have a hard time imagining that is going to change over the next ten months. Heart Of Oak is an impressive many-sided record that will please a diversified group of music fans. Devotees of all things metal and rock will find something that Anciients does to love.