The Chthonic Chronicles
7/3/2006 - Review by: Veritas
Bal-Sagoth - The Chthonic Chronicles - 2006 - Candlelight Records
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.
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