Ancient Rites – Belgium
ANCIENT RITES was created at the end of the 80’s. All members used to play in other bands before, rooted in early 80’s Heavy
Metal but also pioneering in the first wave of Black and other extreme Metal genres.
When the band was formed, their musical style and the entire concept of occult and historically inspired lyrics was far from being
popular. It was an era when Glam and Alternative styles dominated the scene. Still, a local following was built up who called
themselves the Ancient Rites Death Militia.
The line-up consisted of Johan and Philip (guitars), Stefan (drums) and Gunther (bass/vocals).
One year later the „Dark Ritual“ demo was released and spread throughout the entire underground worldwide, still by old-
fashioned regular mail as it was done in the pre-internet age. Soon after the recordings, Philip died in a car accident and problems
forced the band to replace Stefan by drum roadie Walter (Stefan took his own life) and Johan decided to leave the Metal scene.
Pascal and Bart (guitars) joined and the „Evil Prevails“ EP (‚92) was recorded and released through their own label Fallen Angel
Records as initially no one was interested in signing a band in their style.
The D.I.Y. attitude, by releasing their own material, and international underground contacts through tape trading spread the
band’s name. The „Evil Prevails“ sessions were released through several other record companies such as Wild Rags (USA) and
Pascal left the band when joining the Navy. As a three piece ANCIENT RITES released several split EPs (via Belgian After Dark
Records and Greek Molon Lave Records) as well as a split LP and appeared on several compilation albums.
The debut full length album „The Diabolic Serenades“ was released in 1994 through After Dark (CD version) and Midian
Creations (LP format). Licensing deals were signed to guarantee a worldwide distribution (Osmose, Morbid Noizz). After Dark
turned out to be a total rip off and eventually ceased to exist leaving no penny for the band that had invested its own money in the
recordings, artwork and photo sessions.
In 1995 a deal was signed with Dutch Mascot Records and „Blasfemia Eternal“ was released in January ‚96.
The band toured Europe and the U.K. several times and performed with acts such as Deicide, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Cradle
Of Filth, Metallica, Dissection, Morbid Angel, S.O.D., Mercyful Fate, Marduk, Impaled Nazarene, Manowar, Sepultura, Venom,
Rotting Christ, Guns ’N Roses, Behemoth, Saxon and many more. They also played in the United States and Asia.
Throughout the years of ANCIENT RITES‘ existence, the band had to deal with a lot of misfortune: boycotts, bomb threats,
hostile anti-Black Metal audiences in an age when none of the few existing Black Metal bands were touring, ripped off for large
amounts of money by labels and promoters, members ending up in hospital or dying.
However hardship can be turned into motivation. In May ‚96, Bart left the band which made the band a duo (Walter & Gunther)
working with session musicians. Guitarists of bands like Pentacle, Absu, Katatonia, Swordmaster and Luciferian volunteered to
give ANCIENT RITES a helping hand.
Although rooted in Flanders (Belgium) ANCIENT RITES slowly turned into an international act.
On the third album entitled „Fatherland“ (recorded February/March ‚98) musicians from Holland, Suomi-Finland, Germany and
Belgium made their contribution. The album’s line-up consisted of Erik (ex-Inquisitor, guitars), Jan „Örkki“ Yrlund (ex-Prestige/
Two Witches/Lacrimosa, guitars), Walter (drums) and Gunther (bass/vocals).
A compilation album entitled „The First Decade 1989-1999“ was released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the band. After a
negotiation and business transaction between the labels, ANCIENT RITES moved from Mascot Records to Hammerheart Records
for which a fourth full length entitled „Dim Carcosa“ was recorded in winter 2000/2001. The album entered the independent
Dutch charts on the 9th position. Another line-up change took place when Domingo Smets (ex-Renaissance/Agathocles,
keyboards) was replaced by Davy Wouters (ex-Oblivion). The Live CD/DVD „And The Hordes Stood As One“ saw the light of
day in 2003.
Guitarist Bart Vandereycken made his unexpected return to replace Jan Yrlund. The „Rubicon“ album also marked the return of
two other former band members: guitarist Raf Jansen (who played with ANCIENT RITES during the „Blasfemia Eternal“ tour)
and Domingo Smets on bass guitar. Gunther decided to concentrate on vocal duties in ANCIENT RITES.
With this old/new line up combination, the band released an album entitled „Rubicon“ through Season Of Mist.
Today the band consists of Walter Van Cortenberg (drums), Erik Sprooten (guitars), Domingo Smets (guitars) and Gunther Theys
(vocals) and a new album for MASSACRE RECORDS entitled „Laguz“ is recorded.
The journey of ANCIENT RITES is a long one, always distanced from popular trends and often against all odds. For years,
ANCIENT RITES fans often refer to themselves as „Ancient Hordes“ or more recently as „Leg I (A) XVIII (R)“, in the
atmosphere of the ancient historical concept which is typical for the band.
There always has been a strong and spontaneous bond between the band and their public, untouched by commercialism or latest
fashions in the scene, away from rock star attitudes. This was celebrated on the live CD/DVD „And The Hordes Stood As One“.
Through „Laguz“, ANCIENT RITES mark a new chapter in the band’s history.
As always, each album sounds different from the other, yet all works are recognisably ANCIENT RITES, displaying an own style
„Laguz“ is an invitation to enter long forgotten worlds through the dark/historical lyrics and the music, which combines fierce
Metal with classical orchestrations in order to evoke eras buried by time and dust. Testimonies of the rise and downfall of
civilisations, and individuals who come to life again, when the heart and mind open to echoes from the past. Also, philosophy is
touched upon through a message of cultivating a positive inner strength while facing the storms in life.
„Laguz“ in ANCIENT RITES’ tradition avoids lyrical and musical clichés, which sometimes makes it a bit difficult to place the
band for those who like to use typical terms to describe the universe of ANCIENT RITES.
The Diabolic Serenades