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Its hard to have a conversation about epic Metal and not mention British mainstays Bal-Sagoth. This band is quite possibly the most epic thing to come from the UK, ever. From their humble beginnings to their current super cult status they continue to spread their own mythos to the masses by way of; swirling keyboards, massive guitars, pounding drums and shitty vocals. Almost a flawless band.
The production is crisp throughout the album. The guitars are brilliantly intertwined with the classically atmospheric keyboards. There are no solos but there are plenty of sense stirring leads. Its about half palm muted and half open chorded as far is its delivery goes. It sounds as if its tuned to standard, but because of the distortion used this isn't a problem. The music is mostly speedy up tempo riffing mixing modern Black Metal with a healthy dose of Thrash. There are slower more ponderous moments but over all this album doesn't let up.
The bass follows sadly follows the guitars too much for its own good. There is one part where the bass has a short lead in the beginning of the album and thats more or less the last you actually hear from it. The drums are tight and energetic. They are in a near constant double bass frenzy throughout the entire album. Blast beats abound, yet they aren't as creative as they are militant. Not a bad presentation all things considered.
The keyboards are where this album starts to fall apart. The reason for this is because they sound like a bargain electronic store Casio window special. They evoke more images of Warcraft than of the mythical world created by the singer. They are competent and add not only accents but much of the epic atmosphere contained within. They lend a classical touch to the already original mix.
The second part of this that just drags the album down out of the 100% range is the vocals. Byron's spoken word is very cool and different. Not many bands do this let alone do it for perhaps half of an album. His narrative style is a breath of fresh air and a new take on an old idea. His "Black rasp" (if it can so be called) sounds forced, dry and stupid. The vocals he utilized on the bands debut were brutal and deathly, these are weak and cheesy and easily the Achilles heel of the album/band.
This is a very inspiring album. Its fast, happy and fun while having slightly darker undertones laced in and around ever song. The guitars and keyboards steal the show as they work incredibly well together. You get a mental picture of what the world(s) created within look like and are about more so from the music than from the lyrics. The union of these two instruments along with the various styles thrown together in such an original way is breath taking to say the least. With its few short comings this is by far the bands best work to date. Even a decade after its release its still relevant in today’s Metal world. This is a very worth while purchase for those who enjoy originality and/or want something different.