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Bombastic Metal for fantasy nerds! - 90%

Shovel, March 19th, 2003

Fantasy geeks rejoice! Finally, a band that can write fantasy lyrics without too much cheese (let's face it, kiddos, power metal is cheesier than Wisconsin).

But alas, the lyrics are not the only exceptional quality of Bal-Sagoth. The musicianship is superb. Chris Maulding throws together some very catchy riffs. Dave Mackintosh is excellent on the drums, and he seems to know exactly how to represent battles with his rhythms. Of course, Bal-Sagoth would be no where without Jonny Maulding on keyboards. He, along with Byron, makes Bal-Sagoth stand above and beyond other extreme metal acts today.

Ahh, yes. Byron. Byron is, without a doubt, the most talented writer in metal over the past twenty years. Not even the mighty Rhapsody can compare to Byron's lyrical geniusness. Now that you know that I completely worship this band, lets move onto the actual songs.

In typical Bal-Sagoth fashion, the opening track is a keyboard instrumental. The Epsilon Exordium always reminds me of vikings sailing across a vast, bleak ocean. You'll feel like marching off to war within the first minute of this track!

Draconis Albionensis... first off, what a name! This song is sort of a patriotic salute to ancient England. Of course, I'm not English, though this song still makes my heart soar. I can only imagine what it does for the Brits out there. The opening drum beat will make your heart skip a beat. Hell, the entire song is a heart attack waiting to happen.

The epic Hyperborean Saga is continued on Atlantis Ascendant, and Byron draws close to the conclusion of this earth shattering drama. If you enjoyed the first two songs in this saga, you will instantly fall in love with part III as well.

As with their previous two albums, Bal-Sagoth experiment a bit in Atlantis Ascendant. This time they produce The Dreamer in the Catacombs of Ur, which will remind you of Aladdin and all of those middle eastern legends. They even have a synthesized flute solo! Can't get any better than a flute solo.

Finally, the best track on the record is In Search of the Lost Cities of Antarctica. The song opens slowly, with a "march of doom" drum beat. It eventually picks up, and the opening keyboards/guitars sound very saddening. You can pretty much tell that a horrible catastrophy will happen later in the song. The song climaxes with a mind rendering "Sail across Panthalassa to Gondwanaland... Three Moons to guide us on this voyage across the sea... Sail across Panthalassa to Gondwanaland... New lands to conquer and claim for our progeny".

And finally, no fantasy metal is complete without some great album artwork. I must say that Martin Hanford out does himself with the artwork for Atlantis Ascendant. The Sigil of War (the skull and axes) logo is worth the $15 you'll pay for this album alone. Of course, the cover is superb, displaying the ideas behind the album fully and with raw emotion.

Anyone who likes extreme metal that isn't all noise will love this album. You must buy it. You WILL buy it. The gods command you to.