Release DetailsLABEL This Dark Reign
RELEASED ON 4/26/2005
posted on 4/2005 By:
I gave this one quick listen and decided I was going to hate it. I tried pawning off Wikka on various other people here at MetalReview.com, but no one stepped up to the challenge. After a night of work and a long day of listing old CDs and textbooks on Ebay, I decided to give another listen to the album just to see what I was up against, and maybe so I could get the worst over with. To put it in perspective, I'm the kind of guy that, if I go to a restaurant and my meal has something I don't like, instead of removing the offending item, I'll eat it right away, gagging and complaining the entire time. So imagine my surprise when what I'm preparing to just "get over with" ends up being something...quite good. While Belarus' Asguard might not be one of the bigger names out there, they show a reassuring level of promise that comes few and far between in younger and/or unknown bands.
After an introduction of some highly proficient guitarwork and giving the misleading impression that this is going to be a solo guitarist's release, "The Vision of Dream" reveals a sound that's not unlike the vibrant stylings of Sins of Omission or Kalmah. Somewhat thrashy in tempo and extremely melodic with NWOBHM-influenced riffing, with complex dual leads, black/death vocals, and acoustic passages, the standard drum machine programming sound is the one thing that holds Asguard back considerably. With the exception of that and the recording quality, this is one of the more interesting releases of this ilk. As the first real song ends on a bonghit, "The Black Wandering Of Death (Vision 1)" enters, giving more of the same as before. The continuity is interrupted somewhat with some questionable effects placed on the vocals, but like the drum machine sound, it's something that can be overlooked in light of the energy and talent shown right off the bat. "Master Of Everything (Dream Version)" features some inventive tapping that I haven't heard the likes of for a fair while, but the following track, entitled "The Ancient Track," is simply a symphonic, medieval, and comparatively passive sounding piece with some melodramatic death metal bellowing to accompany the twin guitar melodies. If that doesn't pique your interest, then maybe their death metal version of Judas Priest's "Leather Rebel" will. There's also a few tracks added which are unmentioned, which i can only speculate are older songs included as a bonus. Although they show a bit of insight into Asguard's roots and give the listener a look as to how far they've come, ultimately the few extra songs prove unnecessary, but are still attention-grabbing on occasion.
This probably would've been one of my favorite albums back in 1998, and it probably would've been an impulse buy after finding it buried in a huge stack of used CDs. If these guys can pull themselves together enough to record another album with marked improvement in production, I'm positive whatever they create will be fantastic. The way Asguard are now, I'm afraid I'll unfortunately have to pass currently due to a few qualms with the recording and a general unsatisfying aura surrounding the release. I'll still urge everyone who reads this to check them out at the very least - they're definitely worth your time.
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