RETRO TUESDAYS: Asgard – In The Ancient Days (1986)

The Netherlands is a country that I know very, very little about. They seem to be a very straight-forward type of people who are prideful and blunt. I absolutely know their brutal style of death metal well, and their most enduring death metal bands such as Sinister, Pestilence and Thanatos are some of my all time favorites. My knowledge is largely void when it comes to the country’s 80’s heavy metal, though I have some clear favorites: Picture‘s early 80’s self-titled traditional metal debut is incredible, and Jewel‘s ‘Revolution in Heaven’ is a cool blend of post 80’s traditional metal and speed metal, and Martyr‘s ‘For the Universe’ is incredible! The one band I go back to the most, for whatever reason, is the solo release from Asgard ‘In the Ancient Days’. It is a banger of a record and has all the speed, some of the complexity, and even more metal spirit than the other bands I’ve named so far. First impressions have the band coming across like a corny speed metal record at first. Asgard’s zippity pace and frantic guitar runs a la Possessed’s ‘Seven Churches’ give way to heavier riffing and some hilarious classic broken English metal lyrics.

Photo from posterior cover of ‘In the Ancient Days’ gatefold

‘In the Ancient Days’ is very much a me-too genre entry from a band that was just having good fun making fast, heavy metal. It has influences that mix early power metal and post-NWOBHM pop sensibilities without ballads or crooning. The riffs are written to be heavy and memorable without being overtly complex or impressive beyond their speed. You have to look to Noise Record’s line-up of releases for 1986 to really appreciate where this record stood at the time. Bands like Helloween and Kreator were gearing up in popularity as the label scrambled to release everything they could from the groups and stuff like Sinner, Tyran’ Pace and Grave Digger (changed to Digger for a shitty pop metal album) were pumping out mediocre heavy metal and getting label attention despite being almost entirely worthless, dull heavy metal.  Asgard seemed to be heavier and more exciting compared to the bad German metal the label was putting out at the time. It sure as hell wasn’t as dark and forward thinking as Kreator in the day, but there is something ballsy about ‘In the Ancient Days’ that feels “real” and unpretentious considering the metal landscape they were mired in. The perfect comparison is probably Deathrow‘s second record ‘Riders of Doom’. I’m a little surprised the band never managed to turn out another record, it would have been interesting to see them lean into some more serious thrash moments, but I can understand why it might not have been a popular album. For 1986 the sound and style is pretty dated and the production is fairly cheap and hollow sounding. Give the record a try, and the demo/live videos from back in the day are really great transfers worth seeing a virtually forgotten band archived in history.

Artist Asgard
Type Album
Released 1986
LISTEN to the album on YouTube Watch a live performance of “In the Ancient Days
More live videos + Demo tracks Metal Archives page for Asgard
Genres Speed MetalHeavy Metal

Classic obscurity. 4.25/5.0