Thursday, July 02, 2009

Black Sun ... Black Moon! Whispering Dreams Of Atlantean Spires.

What can one say about the brilliant and original Bal-Sagoth? This is a band that when people ask "What bands do you like?" I always throw Bal-Sagoth out there. I first discovered Bal-Sagoth when they released "Atlantis Ascendant" in 2001. I was intrigued by the album name and gave it a spin at the record store.

I was sold. Bal-Sagoth are one of the most unique bands in metal and I have yet to hear the likes of them anywhere else. I immediately went about tracking down their earlier albums and found them without too much hassle (which is good because it would 5 years before they released their 6th and final album of this hexology).

Each album is unique, yet all bear the signature Bal-Sagoth style of symphonic black metal narratives. Each album varies in quality too. I love "Battle Magic" and yet I wasn't blown away that much by "The Power Cosmic". Maybe it was the lack of lyrics and such, but I don't spin it as often as the others.
Their debut album "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is all the more special, because of it's blackened death metal base. This is the only album to feature Byron's deathly growl. he would stick with black metal shrieks and ominous narration for future releases.
"A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" starts off with the ambient instrumental "Hatheg Kla" which sets the a dark and brooding atmosphere. "Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires" begins the blistering blackened death metal assault. The eerie keys are prominent, but enhances the mood without sacrificing their brutality.
"Witch-Storm" and "The Ravening" are also speedy blackened death metal anthems that keeps the extreme in extreme metal to this album. However, that doesn't mean that the sprawling epics like "Into the Silent Chambers of the Sapphirean Throne (Sagas From the Antediluvian Scrolls)/Valley of Silent Paths" and the title track are not brutal. In fact these songs are pummelling, yet varied with quieter passages and orchestral interludes.
The title track "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is probably my favourite track here, and is one of maybe 3 songs that feature hints of the narrative extreme metal minstreling that would become a large part of the Bal-Sagoth sound. It also has some sweeping guitar melodies that are quite moving.
The album also has a good deal of crunch too as heard on the songs "Spellcraft & Moonfire (Beyond the Citadel of Frost)" and "Shadows 'Neath the Black Pyramid". Some real crushing death metal.
To truly appreciate Bal-Sagoth is to listen to Bal-Sagoth. It is a soundscape of haunting keyboards, heavy guitars and a brutally controlled drums and bass. The over the top barbarian themes and dark Atlantean mythology may seem corny, but the band possesses an extraordinary amount of charm and conviction which one cannot help but be sucked in and a part of.
Up next will be another review for Memory Garden. I will continue with Bal-Sagoth again in August.


Post a Comment

<< Home