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..with their own niche. - 86%

Egregius, February 10th, 2005

And then there was a new Bal-Sagoth album, and the fanatical fans rejoiced! Again, mighty epics in atmospheric and bombastic music interwoven with the finest fantasy lyrics metal has to offer! But what was this? Some didn't quite enjoy it entirely. A good album, but there was a subtle shift in theme going on, and people were hoping for a Starfire Burning 2, instead of a Starfire Burning 1.5 and then something. The fantasy world had become a bit more fleshed out, and had become a fantasy universe. But there were infusions of British history and folklore no less! (People who were shocked at this were in for a heart-attack with the following album..)

Actually, I'm being slightly misleading. This is, again, a mighty fine album. Again, awesome lyrical sagas are wrought within the booklet, moreso than actually sung still. Again, the music accompanies this masterfully. When I first bought this album I was subsequently under the impression that good music should convey the atmosphere intended by the lyrics. Oh what sweet joy this album was for me.

But if you look at the history of Bal-Sagoth, there was at first this promising upstart death-black metal band, which carved out their own genre on the next album, and delivered a master-piece. Battle Magic however, isn't quite that. It's good, I mean I really love this album. But there's this underlieing sort of happy vibe. There a lot of energy in the music, but maybe this album is somehow too triumphant. Of special note is 'Blood slakes the sand at the Circus Maximus'. Never mind the regretfull historical error; this is a brilliant song. If you play this song to someone else however, he'll possibly say "This sounds like circus-music", and you know what? That's not that strange a reaction. If you however open up the booklet, and flick through the pages(!) to this song, you'll see that it's an entire epos, even though during the song only 6 or so lines are said. Now listening to the song, you can actually read along the text while the music plays, and depending on reading spead, the music changes to fit the text while you read! When I first discovered this, I creamed my pants. Of course, you might call me a fanboy, but this illustrates: Bal-Sagoth are a niche-band, but there is a reason it's fans get/got so excited about Bal-Sagoth (besides having the longest songtitles ever).

Not quite the same experience as Starfire Burning was, but man, it's still all good, even though the term cheese does pop up slightly with this album (cover-art for example). Guitars could be a bit stronger in the mix though..but in the end, it's still something I can love.