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The Power Cosmic
Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast
AAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!! Your pitiful lives end here and now, Bal-Sagoth have returned to cave heads and maul bodies! If you've never heard of Bal-Sagoth before, you truly do have my pity. Let me tell you, these guys make Cradle Of Filth look like cowering piles of goo in comparison. As the boys themselves put it: "Such diabolical evil…sublime macrocosmical malevolence!" Don't know what that means, but hell, it's a great description of their music.
Remember those Conan the Barbarian movies from way back when? Well, Bal-Sagoth could be the perfect soundtrack to the carnage of those movies. Based around vocalist Byron's own personal fantasy world (yes, he is somewhat of a fantasy novelist-type in his spare time - check out the website), Bal-Sagoth spin tales of heroic deeds from heroic warriors against evil demons and warlocks and the like. The music is heavily keyboard driven, followed closely by a surprisingly clean guitar. Trust me, you've heard nothing like this before.
If you've never heard Bal-Sagoth before, you're in for a definite treat here. The Power Cosmic is the band's most focused album to date. Opening with an keyboarded instrumental, the band fly off into their fantasy realms for a white-knuckle 40-minute ride, stopping for nary a breath. In fact, everything about this album is stripped down from their earlier work. The booklet is (much) shorter, the song titles are shorter, and the album itself is a good 20 minutes shorter as the band has cut out the instrumental interludes.
The problem is, the more bombastic and grand Bal-Sagoth from bygone times was more exciting. The previous albums felt like actual movies that you could picture, simply because of all the details that the band included. Now, this album feels like a collection of songs. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not what Bal-Sagoth is about. I dunno, maybe Nuclear Blast didn't give them the budget that their previous label did, but whatever the case, there's just something missing from this album.
Of course, that's only in comparison to previous Bal-Sagoth albums. Compared to the rest of the metal battlefield, The Power Cosmic is an impregnable monolith of triumph. All I can say is: SUPPORT THIS BAND. They are one of the most wildly original bands out there today and they deserve any recognition that they receive. The Power Cosmic is a good starting point into the many wonderful worlds that this band will transport you to. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and plunder my neighbors!
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