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While I can't say much for Agathodaimon's latest offerings, Chapter III embodies some of their best work. This album is just brimming with Gothic overtones; at times bordering on Cradle of Filth with lyrical complexity while maintaining a strict black metal sound. This is all topped off with beautiful acoustic passages and a dense keyboard presence. All of the tools for a good Gothic black metal album are here, lets see if these guys pulled it off.
Opener "An Angel's Funeral" is one the the best this release has to offer. Buffered by an awesome acoustic intro and hallmarked by great spoken vocal lines by mastermind Sathonys, it covers nearly all of the essential bases and serves its purpose as a competent teaser track. Clocking in at 42 minutes, Chapter III is a modest-length album, and all of the songs have something unique to offer.
Sathonys is responsible for the dark, Gothic spoken sections, brilliant lyricism, and guitars. I'm a huge fan of his playing style, the opening riff of "The Ending of Our Yesterday" is one of the greatest black metal riffs I've ever heard, His contributions constitute the majority of the album. Akaias covers harsh vocal duties, with a respectable shriek that fits the music well enough. These two embody a great duo that sadly fizzled out as the band went through a significant line-up change over the past year. Thanks to the album's warm production, Darin Smith's bass performance is noted and worth mentioning.
What good is a Gothic metal album without keyboards? Felix Ü Walzer makes his debut with the group here, and is responsible for the beautiful piano and violin melodies which are interspersed throughout. The experimental track "Sacred Divinity" features an awe-inspiring intro by Walzer, really bringing out the emotions signified by the clean vocals. He is almost always buzzing around in the background, yet never becomes overbearing, a common pitfall many Gothic keyboardists fall into. Matthias Rodig, the band's longtime drummer (Up until 2008) gives Agathodaimon a solid rhythm backbone. Along with the expected quick double-bass and blastbeats, he surprises us with some technicality and flair; a great performance.
As stated above, Chapter III isn't an overly long album. That said, the best tracks reside in the first half of the release. The second half features some of the slower, more keyboard driven cuts. There really is a lot to chew on here, and fans of black metal will at the very least find something to appeal to them here. I don't really detect any filler here, but some of the more experimental tracks, such as the aforementioned "Sacred Divinity" are hit or miss depending on how one views them. The remaining tracks range from average to great, the weakest, in my eyes, is "Burden of Time". Regardless, Chapter III is the essential Agathodaimon release, fans of the band can't pass this one up.
This is the first real listen that I have given this band. They have a more or less similar sound to many of the other bands in the symphonic genre. I put them more into the Emperor category than anything else. The vocals are extremely high, not really that much use of the clean vocals, and there are two vocalists with the exact same sound. That is annoying, only because it would be better utilization in my opinion of having a higher realm for one and a deeper, more growling sound for the other. It just seems like a waste of a singer. I guess it's because instead of using an ABAB rhyme pattern which meant they just needed to move the rest of the lyrics to the next line, they try to mash them all into one measure, which in turn forces them to use 2 vocalists that sound the same to fit it all in. It's a half-assed Dani Filth when he whelped out rediculously fast and rhyming lyrics that were reticent of Dusk and Her Embrace, and earlier. Unfortunately, they kind of over-scream the lyrics that each has to say and it ends up sounding muddled and difficult to understand at the end of the measure.
Basically the only problems with the album that I have is the lyrics, which are not very thought-provoking, don't really say anything, and don't make sense, and the use of their two singers. For example, in song number 3, Paradise Beyond, the song talks about the earth seated between the spheres....What spheres? Metaphorically speaking or what? Besides that passage, there is no other mention of spheres anywhere in the song. It seems that they stuck it in because it sounded cryptic? As if there was some hidden meaning that was to be sought out? Then the earth starts turning into a desert, where the trees are throwing their leaves into growing realms of sand, and yet there are "hidden treasures" that winds are uncovering from the soil? Uh....what? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
I could go on. What keeps this album rating above an 80 is the music itself, which is very well done. Obviously the content of the music is much more important than lyrical content. Who cares what they are trying to say, as long as it sounds like they wrote some cool lyrics right? I am sure there are many people that sit there and try to decipher the muddled meanings behind the lyrics...I don't get it.
Nonetheless, the album is pretty good. I enjoyed it very much, but I thought that there could have been a better effort vocally, and lyrically. I am looking forward to listening to the other albums that the Agathodaimon crew has released, but I now know that I am not going to hear another Borknagar when I pop the CD in.
The first album that caught my eye and drew me to this band was their third, entitled Chapter III. Agathodaimon is a promising band which displays much originality in their music. Although one might recognize in some songs the clear influence of other bands, like the unsurpassed Dimmu Borgir, Siebenburgen and Graveworm, Agathodaimon demonstrates its own unique feel for Black Metal and, combining various influences, produces that which many seem to lack nowadays – originality and self-affirmed path in music.
The play of various vocals in the songs is great and quite refreshing. Two male vocals, one of them clearly harsh and black-like, the other more inclined to deep gothic, together paint a sombre picture in many songs. Whether it is a disheartening sense of loss, inevitable death or deep longing, this album has it all.
One of my all-time favourites is the first song entitled ‘Angel’s Funeral’. This song is, in my opinion, a little masterpiece. The words are superb, allowing the listener not to just envision the very funeral but to sink into the grim emotions as well – emotions painted on the faces of those attending the funeral. The harsh vocal dominates this song, but is cleverly replaced in the begging and just before the end by that clear male vocal. The dismal singer and the catchy melody of the song compel you from the very beginning to join that inevitable picture of this unavoidable end, to join the funeral procession.
Other songs which give rise to the quality of this album are Departure and Sacred Divinity. These two have a strong gothic feel to them. If you seek the brutality and dominance of deep and harsh vocals, Spirit Soldier and Burden of Time are songs where you can hardly go wrong.
All in all, if you value a unique band which cleverly blends the domains of symphony-black and gothic metal, then Agathodaimon and their Chapter III may be a very good choice. As always, the choice is solely up to you.
WHile many people in "The Scene" like to lump these guys into the Cradle/Dimmu pile, it seems that they do so for superficial reasons alone. While this band does have a ridiculous "Corporate BM" image (i.e. fishnets, leather pants, jewelry and....uhhhh...uhhh...half naked women in a limousine? Huh?), their music should stand to judgement on it's own. What we have here is a strange, melancholy album full of depressing, doom-laden atmosphere, with nice clean vocal melodies and some of the most abrasive black metal screeching this side of old Horna. Where many bands go wrong with this style is they break up the atmosphere of abject despair with ill-fitting fits of speed and an over-reliance on blast beats. THis band, while throwing in some badass thrash riffs and high paced energy (and the odd blast), manage to keep the atmosphere alive through the whole album, so that you feel so utterly depressed that it's over, you NEED to put it back on and have another go. I'm usually rather scornful of this style, but Agathodaimon has managed to produce a very slick, accessible, rockin', stylish, and thoroughly engaging album that never stoops to electronic dabbling or overtly Goth maneuvers to achieve it's supreme atmosphere.
Highlight tracks: The Ending of Our Yesterdays, Departure, Spirit Soldier