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Wyruld Cyninga! - 90%

Wez, March 27th, 2005

Bal-Sagoth are nigh indescribable, but always unforgettable. Compared with "Battle Magic", this is a much heavier effort with guitars and keyboards melding much more comfortably. They create another fine album, sonically giving birth to the cosmic and Atlantean images that the formidable fantasy of Byron Roberts' intense imagination summons forth. I prefer this one to my other Sagoth disc, "Battle Magic", maybe since it was the first and sounded fresher. I agree that both (with only one album standing between them) have very striking similarities, though they have distinctive identities that avoid a stagnation from one to the other.

Another majestic, over the top keyboard intro leads us in with the fervour of a thousand fantasy film scores, and the first song just punches straight into the imaginative realm of madness like it should do. Totally eccentric music, and all over the place with changes of mood, pace and textures a constant feature. It successfully melds several different Metal styles (Epic, Power, Viking, Folk, you name it) with exceses of symphonic layers to create a surprisingly convincing experience. "Lord" Byron steers on the proceedings with a unique alternating rasp/haughty narration style. They are basically alone in their field.

By no means everyone's cup of tea, and the whole thing is dripping in (comic) pretention, but Bal-Sagoth are just fascinating. It doesn't pretend to be overly technical or needlessly complicated, and everything fits into its right place. Though this is not music to wind down to, it's overwhelming in the huge sounds and gigantic ideas its halls house. Fantasy lyrics in Metal can often be riddled with storms of trite cliché, though Byron has an edge to his lyrics that draw it out of any stale territories with his intelligent enthusiasm for fantasy and wordy narratives.

If you're out looking for something more than just a bit different in Metal, and like crazy levels of bombast and layers of music, this band is just waiting for you! "All hail Bal-Sagoth, none can deny them, none dare defy them!" You now know if this is for you or not.