Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 5/15/2001
posted on 1/2002 By:
After a full 2 weeks of listens to Bal-Sagoth's latest endeavor, Atlantis Ascendant, I have come to a couple very important conclusions. First, I never want to hear trumpet or trumpet simulations on a metal album again. For those readers/musicians that are quite possibly considering this element right now for your very own battle metal opus. Scratch that foking notion right now. May I suggest some distorted triangle or quite possibly some flanged maraca to fill the gaps of the missing trumpet? Second and more importantly if I live the rest of my days without hearing spoken word on a metal album again I truly believe I will die happy. Onward to the festival of cheeze. Without a doubt Bal-Sagoth did take great measures in the writing aspects of this album. I can't deny them that. At times there are moments that could be capitalized upon. Too bad they are far and few in between. When I tossed this obscure little disc in for the first time, I remember thinking to myself there was a small comparison to Children of Bodom. Due to the fact of the lead guitar/keyboard attack on the first tune, well actually the second. After their ridiculously long attempt at an enchanting intro. Reflecting back the 30 seconds of the similar style of Bodom was indeed the highlight. The album is exactly how they describe it. Battle Metal, holding true to a fantasy theme throughout. With grand schemes of basically progressive metal lending to the backbone of cheddar. The vocals do lean more on the death side. With an over abundance of spoken word and god-awful laughing intertwined as well. I have to believe they wrote this album without the notion of how humorous it actually is. I just cannot take it seriously, no matter how hard I try. The lyric content while impressive at times is beyond overkill. A short story would be a better way to explain it. With words completely made-up to further their epic metal war mystique. Bottom Line: I will say there is some worthy musicianship throughout. They did do their homework but the overall direction is dated and without heavy. These efforts are in vain for the final direction this album directs is straight to the highway of Havarti.
posted on 1/2002 By:
Before I get to results of one of the hardest dissections I've had to perform for Metal Review, I'd like to set the record straight about the history between Bal-Sagoth and me. The fact is that I don't have a history with this well known band that hails from the other side of the Atlantic in the UK. The reason I feel this needs to come out in the open here is because this album is actually the fifth chapter in an ongoing story written by founder/leader/frontman Byron Roberts. Without having had the chance to read, I mean hear the first four chapters of the story, I feel it's almost impossible for me to give this album the full justice it deserves. Nevertheless, dissections are what The Prophets perform here at Metal Review, and our scalpels are as sharp as they've every been. So, here we go. This album starts off with the ever so common use of soundtrack influenced orchestration done completely with the use of keyboards. I hope I've done my homework here because I couldn't find one bit of evidence leading me to believe the violins, cellos, flutes, horns, etc., were done any other way. That is my first problem with Atlantis Ascendant. With so many musicians able to provide the real deal as far as orchestras go, why not use what is out there? Now some may argue that there isn't very much difference between today's keyboard/studio technology and authentic strings or brass, but I'd have to say the difference is quite noticeable in most cases. I respect the use of keyboards and I'd even like to incorporate them in my half-assed writing someday, but if I was to involve strings or horns, it would have to be the true sound of actual instrumentation. With all this bitching having been spewed out so far I do want to state that the keyboard playing is professional and, along with the vocals, pretty much stands out more than any of the other elements. Speaking of the vocals, they are stellar in some cases, however there are moments on this release where the talking over the music gets under my skin. I can handle a little bit of reciting here and there, but believe me when I tell you that the vocal department consists of 25% blackish growls and the rest involving simple story telling commentary. Not to be brutally honest here, but if I wanted to hear that I'd go buy a couple Stephen King books on CD (I can't think of the name of those things) and listen to them on the dreadful ride to and from work everyday. I will give Byron credit here though, he is one intelligently talented writer. The story that he is currently writing is brilliantly displayed in his own words, and I can't imagine what goes on in his mind while he sits and writes this stuff. I mean, there's even a map at the website that shows you all these cities, continents and bodies of water he speaks of. I'll admit it's not my cup of tea as my lyrical rating will confirm, but I will give credit where credit is due for his unique writing ability. If you were to take away all the keyboard elements and all the vocal arrangements I swear the music underneath is perfect for high grade power metal. This isn't a bad thing, because it fits the ultimate concept Bal-Sagoth is conveying to the listener through the music. I say this only because the riffs are extremely simple yet very effective to the overall message coming from this band. The bassist pretty much follows the guitars the entire time and the drumming is adequate to their musical warfare. I hate having to compare bands to other bands and I'm not even sure I could compare them to any, but to be honest there is one band that does come to mind on occasion and all I'll say is that they also reside in the UK. I can't say that Atlantis Ascendant is going to get much playing time here in Soullessville, but it has intrigued me enough to want to go back in time with this band and experience their back catalogue. There are times when I listen to this disc that the music does hook me in enough to appreciate what they are doing. These are talented and gifted musicians, and after I've read the first four chapters to this ongoing saga I'm almost certain I'll be able to appreciate this release as well as any future releases Bal-Sagoth will provide for today's scene. Favorite Track: The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire (Part: III)
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