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A weeping procession moving through the snow. - 85%

Diamhea, September 14th, 2009

While I can't say much for Agathodaimon's latest offerings, Chapter III embodies some of their best work. This album is just brimming with Gothic overtones; at times bordering on Cradle of Filth with lyrical complexity while maintaining a strict black metal sound. This is all topped off with beautiful acoustic passages and a dense keyboard presence. All of the tools for a good Gothic black metal album are here, lets see if these guys pulled it off.

Opener "An Angel's Funeral" is one the the best this release has to offer. Buffered by an awesome acoustic intro and hallmarked by great spoken vocal lines by mastermind Sathonys, it covers nearly all of the essential bases and serves its purpose as a competent teaser track. Clocking in at 42 minutes, Chapter III is a modest-length album, and all of the songs have something unique to offer.

Sathonys is responsible for the dark, Gothic spoken sections, brilliant lyricism, and guitars. I'm a huge fan of his playing style, the opening riff of "The Ending of Our Yesterday" is one of the greatest black metal riffs I've ever heard, His contributions constitute the majority of the album. Akaias covers harsh vocal duties, with a respectable shriek that fits the music well enough. These two embody a great duo that sadly fizzled out as the band went through a significant line-up change over the past year. Thanks to the album's warm production, Darin Smith's bass performance is noted and worth mentioning.

What good is a Gothic metal album without keyboards? Felix Ü Walzer makes his debut with the group here, and is responsible for the beautiful piano and violin melodies which are interspersed throughout. The experimental track "Sacred Divinity" features an awe-inspiring intro by Walzer, really bringing out the emotions signified by the clean vocals. He is almost always buzzing around in the background, yet never becomes overbearing, a common pitfall many Gothic keyboardists fall into. Matthias Rodig, the band's longtime drummer (Up until 2008) gives Agathodaimon a solid rhythm backbone. Along with the expected quick double-bass and blastbeats, he surprises us with some technicality and flair; a great performance.

As stated above, Chapter III isn't an overly long album. That said, the best tracks reside in the first half of the release. The second half features some of the slower, more keyboard driven cuts. There really is a lot to chew on here, and fans of black metal will at the very least find something to appeal to them here. I don't really detect any filler here, but some of the more experimental tracks, such as the aforementioned "Sacred Divinity" are hit or miss depending on how one views them. The remaining tracks range from average to great, the weakest, in my eyes, is "Burden of Time". Regardless, Chapter III is the essential Agathodaimon release, fans of the band can't pass this one up.