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As a genre that draws its strength from its emotional authenticity and instinctual passion it is understandable that absolute perfection is a state seldom achieved in Heavy Metal, but this long awaited follow up to 2010's The Golden Bough is definitely in that rarefied stratum. From the moment that the pomp of the intro track “Trumpets Of Doggerland” (equal parts Manowar and Classical overture) ignites and the voice of Christopher Lee taken from The Wicker Man rumbles this album takes the listener on a journey of absolute Heavy Metal ne plus ultra. Beyond a shadow of a doubt this is WAR ON ALL FRONTS' album of 2013.
“Sol Invictus” announces this album's opening proper in resplendent nature like a dawning of its namesake and Markus Becker's vocals have never sounded better. He may not be the most classically proficient vocalist in Metal but his tone is unmistakable and the delivery on every note and every lyric is spot on. Plenty of bands have channeled the arcane lyrical complexity of Solstice, the monumental hugeness of early Manowar and the earthy epicness of mid-period Bathory before, but rarely if ever as well as this, and never all at once. This is scholarly researched and flawlessly executed dreamy and triumphant Epic Heavy Metal and even if the album ended here after 13 and a half minutes it would still probably top the list of great releases for 2013, not to mention the best solo and the best chorus.
This is more than just one great song though, it is a truly phenomenal album and “Bilwis” achieves what most instrumental interludes don't by making perfect sense in the context of the two songs it bridges, and melts one melody seamlessly into the other. From there the album leads into the thundering “Heresiarch” which draws on both the most epic (“Blood Of My Enemies”) and the most Doom-laden (“Mountains”) of Manowar's back catalogue for its inspiration, and also a bit of Rainbow or Uriah Heap in the guitar solo and the quieter sections. This Folk-tinged 70's Hard Rock influence becomes one of the defining features of this album, particularly in the melodies of the closing near-12 minute number “White Goddess Unveiled.” As a conclusion to the album's concept this song works to great effect, though as a Heavy Metal fan as well as a scholar it is slightly disappointing that it does not finish on a more fist-pumping tone.
The preceding “Enthroned In Clouds And Fire” is similarly dense on the conceptual side, channelling the apocalyptic tone of Bathory's “One Road To Asa Bay” but inverting the tale to a prophetic decline of Christian Europe rather than is Pagan ancestor. In spite of the Bathory influence though it along with “White Goddess Unveiled” will probably be too long and unwieldy to be translated for live performances. In spite of the strong focus on the album theme though The White Goddess is not short on anthemic tunes. If any song on here could give “Sol Invictus” a run for its money it would be “Twelve Stars And An Azure Gown”, an epic centrepiece to one of Metal's few true concept albums. When it comes to mixing spontaneity and cerebralness, earthiness and epicness this record has everything nailed perfectly. An instant Heavy Metal classic. [11/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
I spoke in my review of Terminus's Into Exile of the stylistic differences between "West epic metal" and "East epic metal", referring only to epic heavy metal. Epic heavy/doom metal shares some similarities to the latter, but in the last decade since its beginnings it's morphed into its own beast. The style is based in that of Doomsword, one of the earliest employers of the style, and the first to gain a significant amount of recognition. Doomsword definitely take some epic heavy metal influence, but they take far more doom metal influence from epic doom pioneers like Candlemass, and perhaps some others like Solstice or or Solitude Aeturnus (I'm not intimately familiar with Solstice or SA, so I can't say for sure). Unfortunately, Doomsword is boring as fuck, taking the epic battle atmosphere of Manowar and combining it with really, really boring doom riffs that are often "uplifting" (read: saccharine) and just sort of plod along. Manowar's Into Glory Ride is actually a very good reference, and probably their biggest non-doom influence (although it is sort of doomy). So Doomsword are a band that's derivative of a shite album, and the epic heavy/doom scene are largely derivative of that shitty derivative band. See the problem? A couple of bands, such as While Heaven Wept, predate Doomsword's debut album (2002), so that is probably a case of convergent evolution, where both were influenced by Into Glory Ride and early epic doom.
Atlantean Kodex is not really an exception. Their first album, The Golden Bough, released in 2010, was a complete snooze-fest, very reminiscent of Doomsword and Into Glory Ride. So I guess it did what it set out to accomplish, it just set out to accomplish sounding similar to shitty music. While Heaven Wept, Cromlech, and Gatekeeper are in a similar vein of dull, derivative music. I haven't heard all the epic heavy/doom bands, but the only one I have heard that doesn't sound like a ripoff of Doomsword and/or IGL is Realmbuilder, who sound more like Manilla Road mixed with epic doom riffs. This would be good if they didn't suck at songwriting; if epic heavy/doom must be a genre, I'd prefer if bands would follow Realmbuilder's lead rather than Doomsword's. Luckily, there's only a dozen or so bands currently, but it's been getting steadily more popular.
Anyway, enough on the (regrettable) history of the style, what does this album, in particular, sound like? The production is decent, slightly above average for a modern metal album, but not particularly great. Vocalist Markus Becker is pretty good, sounding sort of like Kevin Nugent (Legend) without as much character and with a more nasal quality, but still, fairly solid. The main problem - which is the same main problem most bands of this style have - is the songwriting. The album starts off with "Sol Invictus", a surprisingly cool song, with solid if repetitive riffs and a nice, galloping pace. If all epic heavy/doom were like this song, I could dig it a bit more, although it's still not without its problems. The song is very vocal-centric and still lacks riffs in areas, focusing more on catchy vocal melodies than gripping riffs. This is a complaint you often hear about europower, and yet europower is constantly berated while epic heavy/doom hardly ever gets any complaints of that nature. Why? I honestly have no clue. Most epic heavy/doom I've heard is no more riff-focused or "metal" than most europower I've heard, and even this album is still as poppy as a good portion of europower. Is it the lack of excessive keyboards? The fact that the scene isn't as well-known? Or perhaps just a bandwagon thing where people who would otherwise like europower dislike it because it's cool to dislike it but get away with listening to this crap? I'm not really sure, but every album in this style I've heard is just as ball-less as Rhapsody or Nightwish, if not more so.
This album is included in that statement. Is it somewhat enjoyable for me? Yes, but so are a handful of europower bands (Kamelot, After Forever, early DragonForce). This is the cream of the crop for this scene, but it's still slick, riff-deprived, and saccharine as all hell. That said, it's not all bad, as some of the vocal lines tend to be pretty cool and the riffs that do come around tend to be solid if not great, for the most part. The exception would be "Heresiarch", which has fairly lackluster riffs, but "Sol Invictus", 'Enthroned In Clouds And Fire", and "White Goddess Unveiled" have pretty cool riffs, although the last of those is more riff-lite than the others. The interludes are actually sort of cool, which I don't say very often for metal albums, as they help set the mood for the better tracks, but they're not amazing or anything.
That brings us to "Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown", easily the worst song on the album and one of the shittiest songs I've heard in awhile. This album would actually get about an 80% from me barring this song, but it's just a huge pile of steaming dog crap. Super boring, pseudo-romantic vocal lines (actually "line" for the first two and a half minutes - the same idiotic melody repeated over and over with no riffs underneath). This is something I'd expect of post-Rage to Order Queensryche or an average europower band, and the quality isn't even any better than those. It tries to sound epic with an audio clip, flat spoken word, atmospheric keyboards, and stupid, whiny vocal lines, but it just utterly fails. The guitars don't really do much even when they (briefly) appear, mostly sticking to the main vocal melody with some mediocre gallops thrown in. I thought Manowar had taken the "shitty substanceless epic metal" crown, but this song easily steals it from them. Admittedly, I haven't heard every epic metal album, so there could be even shittier songs, though I don't think it's likely.
If you're a fan of epic heavy/doom, you've probably already heard this album. If you're a fan of similar styles like classic metal or trad doom, give "Sol Invictus" or "Enthroned In Clouds and Fire" a listen and see if you might be interested in this album, but beware at the utter shittiness of "Twelve Starts and an Azure Gown". Perhaps Atlantean Kodex will get even better on the next album, they just really, really need to stop writing ballads. Leave it to the pros and stick to riff-focused songs, guys.
Building on the epic themes of their first album, the German five piece give a greater sense of balance to their songwriting. The material that makes up ‘The White Goddess’ is more well rounded out, and what was essentially filler prior to this is now exempt. On ‘The Golden Bough’, one or two songs, some perhaps too brief or immediate, didn’t balance as well as they should have done with the lengthier songs that best showcased their ability to craft hymns of intensity and grandeur. The new material is of the same quality as the best moments of their first album. In other words, they are more focused.
The style of Atlantean Kodex firmly fits into the more traditional, epic strain of doom metal. Structurally, their pounding, intense songs are reminiscent of Viking-era Bathory, in terms of the heroic romanticism that their lyrical output pertains to, and of course the music, which is melodious, anthemic and well executed. Bands such as Solstice, Scald, and Candlemass are all brought to mind in the application of hearty, operatic vocals and their interplay with melodic dual guitars.
Keyboards, reminiscent of 70′s hard rock such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heap underscore this, indicating a nuance of their core influences, not surprising in that the vocal refrain from ‘Pilgrim’ on their previous album was a conspicuous ode to Deep Purple’s ‘Child In Time’, albeit filtering out the influence of blues rock. Occasionally accentuating songs, it never overbears.
All songs essentially have a ‘catch’, an ultimate hook that makes the song memorable, and this makes itself clear in opening songs such as ‘Sol Invictus’ and ‘Heresiarch’, where the guitar leads and vocals counteract to create an anthemic backdrop. It is full of heart and pride, yet it never descends into being overbearing or a form of self-parody. Amidst emotion, there is a great sense of quality control.
Lyrically this album is subliminal, an ode to the cultural pantheon of Europe, one united in a history of struggles, triumphs, defeats, and fratricidal tragedies. In the best form of the metal genre, it is an exaltation, expressing a plethora of moods and colours yet never is it preachy.
It expresses much of the values and sentiments that we might expect from the neofolk subgenre, albeit not restrained by the structural limitations of what are essentially folk-pop songs at heart. This takes the styles heroic aspirations and applies it into the paradigm of epic heavy metal, beautifully and passionately performed. A crystalline production gives a sharp edge to all of the instruments, yet this clarity is balanced with a booming rhythm section that keeps the overall tone within an ‘organic’ range.
There is even the use of a speech by Winston Churchill as a sample (“Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown”), one that exalts the triumphs of Europe as a seat of the arts, culture, philosophy, ethics and great learning, yet bereaves the internal conflicts and fratricides that have plagued the continent for centuries. As unlikely a source it may seem, the context is poignant and fits well with the romanticist ethos of Atlantean Kodex.
A truly worthy follow up, and an improvement on their first album, “The White Goddess’ is a formidable Gesamtkunstwerk, one that elevates heavy metal from mild neoclassicism to a high art form.
"The White Goddess," the second scroll of epic heavy metal from Germany's Atlantean Kodex, is one of the most amazingly passionate and invigorating albums I've ever heard. The record stands as a fifty-six minute monolith of five gigantic slabs of grand metal and three interlude pieces leading into the colossal majesty of Atlantean Kodex's sermons, which are bombastic journeys of masterful guitar work and atmospheric purity. Atlantean Kodex acts as the antithesis of modern metal, abandoning the processed clarity and sterile songwriting of the herd for smoldering anthems that reach peaks and valleys of emotion with a sound quality that is untainted and as natural as it gets. They've made an opus that captivates the tribes from beginning to end, conjuring images of classic doom bands like Solstice and While Heaven Wept while resonating echoes of other fantastic groups like Bathory, Manilla Road, and Manowar.
The excellence of "The White Goddess" is rooted in its honesty. Atlantean Kodex, though a harbinger of the long-running tune, never overcomplicates its pieces with overbearing guitar leads or fattening riffs that suffocate the surrounding platform. Instead, the group showcases grandiose, gripping sections that are direct and driving, yet never lapse into annoying repetition or overkill. The opening "Sol Invictus (With Faith and Fire)" bobs around on just a handful of riffs during its eleven-minute run, but Atlantean Kodex is perfect at keeping the flames and passion burning through its surreal marathon of heavy metal mastery. However, the bar stays in Olympus throughout the record's lengthy duration, and there's not one moment here that looses a drop of the divinity within the band's excellent vitality. From the engrossing melodies to the heroic percussion, "The White Goddess" stands triumphant over all.
Every tune is worthy of song, but my favorite is "Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown (An Anthem for Europa)," which sees Atlantean Kodex riding on an elegant lead melody, acoustic strings, an immaculate chorus, and a sensational riffing section that turns up the speed and power beyond the dial's threshold. Outstanding stuff. One of the many reasons why this release is too damn awesome is a man named Markus Becker, whose voice shines like a trumpet in Asgard. His vocals are filled with might and emotion instead of aggression or anger, yet they sound completely lucid and bright against the unblemished attack of "The White Goddess." Like the music, Becker's voice does not receive the modern metal treatment of burdening the entire performance with studio magic and other needless crap, instead showing true transparency and skill in what are the golden chimes of the king of the bards.
Like the group's first set of releases, "The White Goddess" features a lyrical show that is extremely poignant and meaningful, and it adds so much more color to songs that are already superb musically. At the end of the day, Atlantean Kodex has created an album that dominates everything in its path, using unparalleled vigor and wonderful performances to make a collection of songs that is truly epic in every regard. I could sit here all day and tell you why "The White Goddess" is the king of kings, so just stop and listen to the voice of Atlantean Kodex as its oracles teleport you to a world untouched by mediocrity, where heavy metal reigns supreme. Remember the name of Atlantean Kodex, for it's a rising tide within the realm of music and has earned the eternal glory of the gods.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Albums like "The White Goddess" - great to listen to, a pain in the arse to review. The 8 songs and 55 minutes of Atlantean Kodex's second album takes the fabled principles of their previous outing ("The Golden Bought") and increases every scale - Markus Becker's cleanly sung vocals are bigger, the lead riffs ring more harmoniously and thrown into the mix are a few quotes from one Winston Churchill providing the album a narrative on the fate and glory of Europe. In essence, the summation of Bathory + Candlemass + Manowar, all at their most epic, which first attracted me to check out the Germans' in 2010 has not changed here.
I can think of few metal bands from recent times who paint with such broad vivid strokes as AK, hence the recommendation of those acts who all peaked in the mid-late 80s. There remain other current acts like labelmates Argus playing Maiden-tinged straight-up heavy metal, no shortage of retro bands like Cauldron and definitely no lack of acts unwittingly parodying heavy metal (Hammerfall and their devotees), but this is something different. For that reason a band like Atlantean Kodex will never be for every metalhead, a pity for this vestige of artistic passion is a joy to behold. Sweeping across the landscape slowly and methodically, each track tells a story of its own, though never sounding drawn out as might be imagined when four of the eight clock in at least 10 minutes, although odd moments can fall foul of the band's willingness to add depth at all costs.
Lyrically the band are just as chasmic, covering the history and mythology of Europe wrapped in intriguing titles like "Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown" and "Heresiarch". But it is the vociferous story-telling prowess within the music which displays AK's technical prowess and love of majesty. The choral rendition of "Sol, Sol Invictus" at the start of that track says something about how the band strive always to ignore the rulebook, before launching into a scything rhythm and fist-pumping tempo. The most epic (there's that word again) qualities of Manowar and Hammerheart"/"Twilight..."-era Bathory are evident throughout the whole record, whether in the short instrumentals "Bilwis" and "Der Untergang der Stadt Passau", as well as epics like "Enthroned in Clouds and Fire", where the slow calculated opening breaks into a synth-driven vocal backing akin to the great departed Viking metal forefather himself. Small factors such as the squealing lead which introduce the vocals in this track, or the lingering keyboard outro in closer "White Goddess Unveilied", are indicative of the levels of thought that has gone into this record.
Looking for obvious defects within "The White Goddess" is hard - the clear production gives breathing space to all while avoiding the compression issues of most current metal releases. In comparison to the recent Argus' effort and past works of similar mentioned acts however the long songs on offer don't always pack the same punch as more direct efforts. That slow pace, itself a nod to metal's true legacy, is likely to be a factor prohibiting AK's name becoming widespread as the release as a whole is a challenging listen and far from another band singing about 'heavy metal in the night'. I've grown accustomed to seeing safe bands and records hoovering up the acclaim and top festival billings - a trend I harbour no illusions of ever disappearing - but for those who shirk at the bland offerings of heavy metal's current leading acts then there are alternatives. The boldest and most elegant of those is Atlantean Kodex - a band who revel in Wagnerian pomp forged with metallic regality on a massive scale.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
I've been looking forward to this album for a long time. I was a big fan of The Golden Bough, and was always surprised that metal-fan opinion on that album was so divided. It wasn't perfect, but it represented a side of epic/doom/heavy metal that was new and oh-so epic, and I still listen to it regularly. Anyhow, The White Goddess has been a long time coming, and naturally I was a little worried that all the build-up would result in a let-down.
Not so. I'll try to convince you with what follows, but to preview my opinion, and at the risk of of sounding like a fanboy: It's perfect. This album is above and beyond the epic creations previously forged by this band, or any other band in the genre. This is easily my album of the year, featuring incredible pacing as a whole and songs that top everything else on the playing field.
Even the filler tracks are outstanding, connecting the major songs seamlessly and elegantly. The guitars frequently combine to create a powerful heavy, doomy (or soaring, as the case may be) landscape which is perfectly counterpointed by the stunning lead riffs, which have a tone that you can virtually feel through the speakers. The drums hit it just right as well, connecting and emphasizing in a way that really works. I don't usually pay close attention to drums, but these were noticeably good.
The vocals are also excellent. Epic metal vocals frequently come off as either overly mournful or pretentiously dramatic (MM from Candlemass...). Here, they are done right. The lead vocals are powerful and clean, as well as sincere. His tone matches the music. There is not a hint of pretension or cheese in the singing. The lyrics are killer as well, ranging from mythology to religion. On a related note, a number of the tracks use tasteful vocal samples, which are effective, topical and expertly placed.
The songs, in epic style, are long. They are the farthest thing from monotonous, however. The band revisits musical themes and ideas throughout each song, but the songs themselves are constantly changing; building, ebbing, and rebuilding to new heights. Listening all the way through never feels like a chore. Multiple listens make them even more enjoyable, as you get an idea of how the band planned each song's progress. Still, each song is a knockout the first time you hear it. I haven't grinned like this at a first listening of an album in more than a decade. Every song on this album is great. My previous favorite by AK was "A Prophet in the Forest." Still a favorite of mine, but several of the songs on the album top it. "Heresiarch (Thousandfaced Moon)" might be the best one here, but it truly is a hard call.
I wish I could say something negative about this album so that I wouldn't sound like such a sycophant, but I just don't have anything bad to say about it. Enough gushing from me. If you are a fan of epic heavy metal, give this one try. For any Atlantean Kodex fan, this is a no-brainer. If you are new to the band, I think you will be happily surprised at what you have been missing.
So I’ve had this one for a little while now, and to be honest I’d have liked to have took a month or two before actually coming to review The White Goddess, largely due to its scope and depth, although I guess it wouldn’t be fair to you guys to keep you waiting so long would it?
Atlantean Kodex had been this enigmatic, coveted underground band for quite some time, although their debut full-length The Golden Bough (which dropped late 2010) certainly shed some light on the Germans. The aforementioned album was a gargantuan slab of epic, towering heavy metal which, for many, was one of the finest albums to hit the unsuspecting in quite some time, although I know others voiced a disdain for their plodding style. I was definitely pitching my tent in the former camp, although I will say that I felt the album did have its ever-so-slight flaws.
Any minor caveat I had with The Golden Bough has been dashed against cliffs of my personal taste like a monstrous tidal wave with the advent of The White Goddess. I hate to kick the hype machine so hard into overdrive, but this album is seriously, seriously good. Immediately coming across as more propulsive, heavy, and intelligent; everything spectacular about The Golden Bough has been fed through a strainer and simmered into a majestic tour-de-force of heavy metal wonder, boasting incredible lyrics that will appeal equally as much to the history buff as that of the “Sword & Sorcery” aficionado.
After a relatively brief intro in “I. Trumpets of Doggerland (There were Giants in the Earth in those Days)” Atlantean Kodex comes crashing through the speakers like the aforesaid tidal wave with “II. Sol Invictus (With Faith and Fire)”, which boasts a rumbling riff set striking the ears as divine. Markus Becker’s vocals immediately sound superior to those he laid down on the previous album, reminding me of a reigned-in John Arch in places, although admittedly I do find it hard to put a finger on exactly why I am reminded as such.
“IV. Heresiarch (Thousandfaced Moon)” manages to top “Pilgrim” from The Golden Bough as my favourite Atlantean Kodex number. A massive, triumphant affair housing an endearing chorus that I guarantee will have you singing along in no time! I can feel myself wanting to veer off into track-by-track territory now, so I’m going to leave it there. Let me tell you though, each track – including the interludes – are deserving of mention and their place in the album. Boldly marching through ace dynamic shifts and housing wonderful hooks as well as ample a pummelling riff, all of the proper songs here stand as towers of proud and powerful heavy metal.
Grounding myself now, I will say that those who extract the majority of their musical enjoyment from pristine modern acts, from glossy power metal to clinical death metal, might find the sounds of Atlantean Kodex lost on themselves. If you do fall into this category, then you can probably skip this, although it’s worth giving at least a cursory listen, who knows when/if you might convert? On the other hand, those who love dusty, archaic heavy metal, and of course “true metal”; I proudly present you your album of the year.
Blending the sounds of acts as diverse as Solstice, Bathory, Fates Warning, While Heaven Wept, and Manilla Road, Atlantean Kodex provide a slab of heavy metal delight which comes off as altogether more refined, and, I dare say, better than their superlative debut. Sure to be topping end of year lists, and certainly sure to have its place in my own; The White Goddess is an album many metal fans should check out, and I’m sure will come to adore. An excellent addition to any serious metal fans record collection!
Originally written for http://blackwindmetal.com
“A solemn pilgrimage through nightclad wintry woods”
Three years after their acclaimed debut album “The Golden Bough”, epic German metallers are back with another strong slab of mythological iron. Even though it was the album I was expecting, it's nonetheless another strong effort. I do think they deserve the throne of epic metal and their new full length is only confirming this. Procession and Evangelist should all kiss the hand of the white goddess because it's a excellent album.
Composed of four epic ten minutes tracks, three interludes and a shorter eight minutes track, the album is a nice trip into philosophical or religious territories with “Heresiarch (Thousandfaced Moon)” and “Sol Invictus (With Faith and Fire)”. Their lyrical theme is absolutely excellent, I'm pretty sure the guys are historians or theologians since there's a true clerical research found here. Named after the famous book of Robert Graves, both this book and this album is a continuation of “The Golden Bough”. Taking the magical and poetic influences of these books, the band managed to create a rich lyricism for their music. It's much more subtle than many other lyrics and you can see that there's a real effort but into them. To be honest, many metal bands just seem to disregard their lyrics as an afterthought. It's perhaps not as much as important as the music for this style of music but I consider that if you want to be a complete band, it's essential to have a solid lyrical representation. It's not Sarcofago so bad lyrics are not an excuse
“At the standing stones the scythe will set him free. Bound to the oak, the Kingpriest‘s life for our creed”
Musically, I feel the band explored a doomier realm this time. There's no four minutes catchy track like “Disciples of the Iron Crown” to be found here. The catchier track is probably “Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown” with its awesome melodic repeated lead and the Churchill Zurich speech in 1946 and it's about the fate of Europe and the intestinal rivalries between the countries that destroyed the continent. It also has this awesome lead inspired by heavy/power metal and showcases the out of this world clean vocals of Markus Becker. His voice, not tough or rough, is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Atlantean Kodex, he's like this prince with a golden voice protected by the other four members of his kodex. The production on his vocal is less airy and tighter than on the previous album and that's an appreciable improvement.
“If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, to the prosperity and the glory which its three or four million people would enjoy” (click this link for the whole text: here you go!)
I think the songwriting is more mature and rich as well while not intrinsically different from their early releases. I was listening to “The Pnakotic Demos” yesterday and except for the mediocre production, the basis of their sound is still there especially in the epic first track “From Shores Forsaken”. The sound only grew to an higher echelon here, the songs are as long but they're more focused and better overall. The guitars are heavy and the vocals destroys all the opposition in the epic metal world. Even if they already has this huge Solstice influence early on (hurry the fuck up Richard, it's been 15 years since “New Dark Age), it's a bit more present here or at least the epic doom atmosphere ate a large part of the traditional heavy/power sound. There's still the cool USPM inspired parts here and there, I guess you can still hear the mark of Cauldron Born especially in the high clean vocals.
The guitars of Koch and Trummer are excellent, from blistering leads to acoustic parts such as the short interlude “Bilwis (Sorcery and Witchcraft in Eastern Bavaria)”. They're never doing too much, never too flashy and they just deliver these good riffs one after one. Nonetheless, I almost think they're a bit overshadowed by the vocals, there's so many lyrics that even an eleven minutes song can feel short and busy. This can be both a good and a bad thing in some cases since the album can become overwhelming. Everything is great but it's so epic that it hurts. I wish the interludes would be longer or that they would have included a ballad of some sort on their album. The one hour album feels massive and even though there's still some interesting tempo changes, it can get a bit monotonous at times. I mean, I'm sure the taste of a deep fried hot dog is totally sublime but yeah, I wouldn't eat...OK I probably would but that's because I'm a pig!
“The White Goddess” is still grandiose enough, the epic connoisseurs will enjoy its bombastic approach and its rich songwriting. The album ends on an high note with a three minutes piano conclusion integrated on “White Goddess Unveiled”, a great twelve minutes song. The band has the balls to pull off interesting things but I feel they can and should do more exploration. Why not write long ass instrumental songs à la Melechesh and Lykathea Aflame! I believe they have the necessary vision and potential to do such things. I simply wish they would expand the clean moments found on a song like “Vesperal Hymn” featured on their previous album, it had this almost western or flamenco touch (quite unsure about myself here obviously) that I enjoyed a lot. Furthermore, with the integration of a slower/doomier sound, the catchiness of “The Golden Bough” has evaporated a little. Their 2013 release is more one sided and less varied than their esteemed debut.
The album is a safe sophomore to say the least, I wasn't of course expecting a new age record but the quality is optimal. The production is great and atmospheric, the musicians are top notch, the lyrics are perhaps the best written the genre has seen in a while and it's very epic, perhaps too much. This is still the best epic metal album of 2013, I, without certain restraints, welcome the new reigning kings to their throne.
Originally written for The Metal Observer and Metantoine's Magickal Realm