Ancient started as a solo-project of Norwegian composer Aphazel in 1992. Aphazel's brand of dark Black Metal became a full band when Grimm (vocals/drums) joined shortly later.
As a pair, they released the Eerily Howling Winds demo tape and the Det Glemte Riket 7" in 1993 and 1994 respectively and gained themselves a strong following in the underground Black Metal scene. 'Listenable Records/Osmose' realized the potential of them and released their debut album Svartalvheim (1994), an album now considered a Black Metal classic. The mini album Trolltaar (1994) followed shortly later and ended up being the last release with Grimm, who pursued other musical directions.
Aphazel then moved to the U.S.A. and recruited Lord Kaiaphas (ex-Grand Belial's Key/ex-Thokk) as the new vocalist. They soon after received a contract with 'Metal Blade Records' and in 1996, together with Kimberly Goss and Kjetil, released the The Cainian Chronicle, an atmospheric album that was followed up with a European tour and the video, "Liliths Embrace", the follow-up album became a classic within the genre. A few line-up change ensued culminating in the album Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends being released in 1997 featuring guitarist/keyboardistJesus Christ!, and female singer Erichte. That same year 'Metal Blade' re-released the Svartalvheim album.
In 1998, Aphazel relocated his operation to Italy after having met Deadly Kristin to take over female vocals role and replacing Erichte in the process while he took over the vocals himself. Together with new drummer Krigse, they released The Halls Of Eternity in 1999. This album was showed them returning to their heavier guitar oriented style. Dhilorz was recruited on bass shortly after the recording, and promptly showed to be an indispensable asset to the band. Some touring followed including the band's first tour through Scandinavia. After a short period Krigse left Ancient due to personal and musical differences,with Grom, an established drummer in the local Italian scene, taking his place dressed in spikes, leather and chainmail (his fashion sense resembled that of certain members of Enslaved and Snake Eyes). Grom's debut would be that year's Wacken festival.
The mini-album God Loves The Dead was released in January 2001, including special material like re-mixes, a cover track, a re-recording of the classic Trolltaar, videos and other material along with the title track. Some touring took place around Europe and they would be the first black metal band to ever play in countries like Israel, Bulgaria and Romania (by the famous region of Transylvania). After this, another line-up change took place, with Deadly Kristin leaving the band due to practical reasons before the band settled down to complete the writing of a new record. Ancient entered the studio of Andy La Rocque(of King Diamond) with Jacob Hansen behind the mixer. The result was a competent recording of superior production quality than any in their past. Proxima Centauri (2001) showed a style more aggressive, heavier and more technical and complete than their past work by keeping the best of the band's roots and incorporating new original and new innovative elements. After the release of this album a long tour followed, titled The 10th Anniversary Tour of Ancient.
Under the line-up of Aphazel (guitars/vocals), Grom (drums/percussion), Dhilorz (bass), Jesus Christ (guitars), Night Visit would arrive in 2004 with more input from all band members, the album showed several new elements in the band's sound, resulting in an album not only well performed and composed, but also an evolution for the band. The album included a promo video for the title track (a story about a girl assailed by the dead), and a guest appearance of Lord Kaiaphas on the track Rape The Children Of Abel.
Aphazel and Deadly Kristin released an album with their side-project called Dreamlike Horror, for Greek label 'Sleaszy Rider Records' in June 2005.
Throughout his years with Ancient, drummer Grom has recorded, released and participated in a vast number of recordings for various side-projects and other bands as a guest or hired session player. Some of these include Hortus Animae, Opposite Sides, Hate Profile, The 'K', K-Again and Doomsword. Bassist Dhilorz was a member of the Italian death metal band Infliction and released several albums with them.
Live, the band featured Aleister of Faust on guitar and following Grom's departure, also featured Nick Barker (Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir) on drums.
Ancient's original demos, including Eerily Howling Winds, were re-released in 2005 in an album called Eerily Howling Winds - The Antediluvian Tapes.
A 3 year break ensued until a brief stint of live shows came about in 2009.
'Metal Blade', now their former label, since then released a three-CD pack containing the band's three releases before the Night Visit album: The Halls of Eternity, God Loves the Dead and Proxima Centauri.
In 2011, Aphazel announced that he shortened his artist name to Zel.
The album, Back to the Land of the Dead, arrived in 2016.
Ancient can be considered as one of the original Norwegian black metal bands that were part of the now famous scene of the early nineties. They were one of the very first Norwegian black metal bands to sign for a semi-major label ('Metal Blade Records'). Ancient can be considered as a historical black metal act, whose path took a different course upon their relocation around the world and subsequent exit from the local Norwegian scene.