The Chthonic Chronicles
Bal-Sagoth - The Chthonic Chronicles - 2006 - Candlelight Records
|Track Listing1.The Sixth Adulation of His Chthonic Majesty|
2. Invocations Beyond the Outer-World Night
3. Six Score and Ten Oblations to a Malefic Avatar
4. The Obsidian Crown Unbound
5. The Fallen Kingdoms of the Abyssal Plain
6. Shackled to the Triliton of Kutulu
7. The Hammer of the Emperor
8. Unfettinger The Hoary Sentinels of Karnak
9. To Storm the Cyclopean Gates of Byzantium
10. Arcana Antediluvia
11. Beneath the Crimson Vaults of Cydonia
12. Return to Hatheg-Kla
About a week ago, I completely re-organized my album collection. After about an hour of painstaking work, I left my room to go get something to eat. I had just removed Immortal’s “Battles in the North” from its old position, and placed it on my desk next to Luca Turilli’s “Prophet of the Last Eclipse.” After returning a few minutes later, I was shocked to find both of those CDs had disappeared! In their place lay only one disc, which, upon inspection, was entitled: Bal-Sagoth – “The Chthonic Chronicles.” Intrigued, I popped the album into my computer and gave it a few listens. What I found was the product of the first-ever recorded compact disc mating session!
Alright, I lied a little, that story is completely fictitious. However, it does reveal a very important characteristic of the newest album from the English epic black metallers Bal-Sagoth. “The Chthonic Chronicles” combines the best elements of traditional and avant-garde black metal with the speed and orchestral-melody focus of symphonic power metal to create an aural juggernaut of an album.
“The Chthonic Chronicles” are the closest thing to a novel in music form since Blind Guardian released “Nightfall in Middle Earth” in 1998. Vocalist Byron Roberts alternates between grim, blackened shrieks and a spoken, narrative style that makes an appearance in almost every song. The guitars and keyboards, however, are what make this album so powerful. Chris Maudling’s riffing style is pretty similar to that of a typical black metal band in the style of Immortal or Satyricon most of the time. Occasionally, such as during “Invocations Beyond the Outer-World Night,” the riff structures take on more of a power metal tinge, but the extreme metal feel remains. The keyboards, on the other hand, are perpetually melodic and symphonic, rarely playing backing chords just to add atmosphere to the songs. Jonny Maudling’s style is more akin to that of the keyboard players from epic power metal acts Rhapsody or Fairyland than symphonic black metal groups such as Stormlord or Dimmu Borgir.
As popular as English bands Cradle of Filth and DragonForce are in today’s world of metal, the rightful British kings are Bal-Sagoth. Right now they are clearly the most creative and talented act in their homeland, and should be recognized among Europe’s best. They truly belong in a category of their own, or at least one shared with the likes of Hollenthon and Summoning. Truly, these guys are worthy of a lot more recognition than they are currently receiving.