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Before going into any discourse, it would be best to say that the framework, style and theme of this duo is based on the influence of Austrian black metal/neoclassical outfit Summoning, and the influence is patently ‘on the sleeve’.
Similar to a band like Morrigan, whose work on ‘Celts’ takes cues from various eras of the Bathory canon, Caladan Brood’s take on the Summoning template strives for a similar chronological effect, though the combination mostly resembles a cross between the lush orchestration and brooding pace of Oath Bound the linear guitar riffs that can be heard on ‘Dol Guldur’ and the melodic infectiousness hinted at in ‘Stronghold’.
Occasionally, climatic songs reach crescendo with the use of melodic solos that are influenced by Quorthorn’s style of playing on the Viking-era Bathory work. This is especially prominent on ‘Wild Autumn Wind’, which after repeat listens clearly becomes the standout song on the opus. The structural template, the use of a piano-like synth, balladic pace and backing vocals containing a conspicuous similarity to Summonings ‘Land Of The Dead’, with a solo that resembles Gary Moore playing a guest performance on ‘One Rode To Asa Bay’.
There are some faults on here, in spite of ‘Echoes Of Battle’ being a quite brave and ambitious effort. An immediate flaw comes in the immediate comparison to a band that many have not attempted to base their style and sound upon, Summoning. Being an act whose style is conceptually and musically distinct, it’s genuinely hard to feel that any band influenced by them could improve on what they’ve already done. So whilst it’s a sincere work at times, and certainly compliments the romanticist ideal within black metal, it still falls short of the pinnacle.
On a less abstract, more technical scale, there are some throwaways which damage the aesthetic at times. The clean vocals can often be offputting. Their production and treatment is often quite sterile, overly compressed and would have benefited more if they were less direct, lowered a little in the mix, and if more echo had been applied.
‘Echoes Of Battle’ is a commendable effort, for certain, and whilst it pales in comparison with Summoning’s work both old and new, is still worthy of the attention of any respecting listener.