Having been a huge fan of eclectic black metallers Bal-Sagoth’s first three releases (“A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria”, “Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule and “Battle Magic”) I am proud to say that I am equally impressed with these three reissues: “The Power Cosmic”, “Atlantis Ascendant” and “The Chthonic Chronicles”.
First of, “The Power Cosmic” is more based on orchestral arrangements with keyboardist Jonny Maulding showcasing his best orchestral compositions to date. There are black metal mannerisms here, but this album is more focused on tight musicianship, atmosphere and a darkened vibe, so it goes even farther than the black metal trip Bal-Sagoth had been on their three CDs prior to this one. The production, mix and sound on this baby is just phenomenal as it will suck you write into the speakers. The atmosphere alone makes getting this album a top choice among many of the extreme black metal bands around. “The Power Cosmic” is a superb example of how well orchestral music can be blended in with heavy, overdriven guitars all the while sounding so out worldly.
Following on the successes of “The Power Cosmic”, album number five, “Atlantis Ascendant” makes a strong effort at mixing the orchestral elements along with the raspy to the spoken vocal passages, which are backed by flesh piercing guitar rhythms and riffs that’ll rip your brain tissue out. Musically, it is definitely heavier than the latter, but also employs an epic, long journey-like feel to it. Imagine the black metal mannerisms of Mayhem and Darkthrone mixed together for a good measure and then tied to glorious battles found on Excalibur, and you’ve got a record of total awe and grandeur.
Last but not at least, and I am hoping that album number six, “The Chthonic Chronicles” is not Bal-Sagoth’s final as it is a sinister lesson in darkened brutality and orchestral upheaval. Yes, this album is mixture of sorts, but more a mixed bag of all of their previous albums, including the brash and raspy black metal vocals they’re known for. For those of you into some killer riffing and melodies, all of their releases have it, but more so, these last three CDs have the more memorable guitar harmonies and melodies, yet strikingly very different in feel and playing. A superb example of this musical splendor would be found in the song, “Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar”. This one has got more twist and turns than a car going out of control. From heaviness to darkness, epic moments and finer mellow moments, this song will leave you thinking of all of the past battles you’ve contemplated against your dearest enemies on the earth.
For many of us who love to headbang, “The Chthonic Chronicles” is sure please us by knocking us senseless in the head.
You’ve been warned with the positive and negative energies found these releases, so start preparing for the next world war as your life is in imminent danger from our everyday worldliness.