Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bal-Sagoth - A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 1995
Label: Cacophonous Records

A band that requires no introduction, Bal-Sagoth has been churning out their own unique brand of epic symphonic black metal since 1989, their first demo surfacing in 1993. It wouldn't be until 1995, however, that the world would hear their their first full-length album. This is my favourite release from these fantasy-obsessed Brits, and they would never record an album quite like it again. The atmosphere is much darker here than on their later work, and the production evinces a more obscure, arcane atmosphere. Honestly, I think this is the band's most epic work. Many people will likely disagree with me on this, seeing as their future releases are drenched in keyboard symphonics, and while it's cool for what it is, A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria had the most vivid and encompassing atmosphere which I feel really enthrones it at the top of their discography. Granted, I'm not intimately familiar with Battle Magic or Atlantis Rising, but the handful of listens I've given them seem to further cement my opinion on the matter. I find myself reaching for A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria far more often than The Power Cosmic, Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule, and yes, even the revered Chthonic Chronicles. As I mentioned previously, this is a decidedly darker album than anything that succeeded it, and I really like the way the symphonic elements aren't quite as over-the-top as they are on the band's other discs. Vocally, Lord Byron switched between the expected black rasps and his trademark spoken word passages, but he also used death growls that would never be heard again on a Bal-Sagoth album. I enjoy his vocal performance on this release immensely, and I actually feel that it was his best overall. Chris Maudling's riffwork is also a highlight, delivering a crushing fusillade of black and death metal magefire that stomps its way across the band's soundscape like an ancient warmachine. The combination of the leaden riffs and tasteful symphonics truly brings to mind the images of the cyclopean cities, eldritch spires, bloody battles, and unfathomable ancient gods that have always pervaded Bal-Sagoth's awesome lyrics. In short, this album is heavy, atmospheric, evil, arcane, and epic all at once - just the way I like it. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.

For fans of Emperor, Sear Bliss, Limbonic Art, and Summoning.

1 comment:

  1. Bal-Sagoth is the best metal band there is. They have outstanding vocals and percussion. I love them.