Bal Sagoth - Epic Howardian Thule Battle Metal

Created in the grey country of Britain, and hailing from roots of both Symphonic Black Metal and Power Metal, Bal Sagoth have been creating their brand of music since around 1989 when it twas first concieved by leader poet and singer Byron Roberts. However he didn't put into place him concepts until 1993, when he teamed with fellow Britannian Battle Metalers to create the music. Their first recording wasn't released until 1995, though it had been recorded in 1994. It was titled A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria and was widely recieved with scratched heads and good reviews. Equally inspired by Emperor (with whom they share many similarities musically) and the epic symphonies surrounding such works as Conan The Barbarian and feauturing lyrics telling a story inspired by such authors as Robert E. Howard (of Conan fame), H.P. Lovecraft (in his epic fantasy mode) and Edgar Allan Poe, and perhaps a hint of such authors as H. Rider Haggard and Lord Dunsay.

Their next recording, released in 1996, the long windedly titled Starfire Burning Upon the Ice Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule was also highly praised for its interesting sound and more symphonic feeling. The last album it was generally held, was more black metal, on here they started displaying other, more traditionally metal sounds. Though Byron continued (and would continue) using his black metal rasp. The record continued the story set forth in the previous album, which would drawn to a close with 1998's Battle Magic, which is claimed by some to be their best album. However the trilogy would be now be continued with a second trilogy, which involved the same world, just with a more adventure feeling, and a lot of talk about atlantis and lemuria, reminding this listener of Howard's series of Afghanistan adventures, or Edgar Rice Burroughs' writtings, Burroughs is also a big influence upon Byron I believe. This trilogy (as yet unfinished) has so far been told with The Power Cosmic and Atlantis Ascendant, these two recordings were released on Nuclear Blast, but the band proved too quirky for them, and now both recordings are out of print, which means grab them if you see them. With luck, the band which now has a new recording contract, will release the 6th and final album of the second trilogy sometime very soon.

I didn't like them at first, which I think is a common reaction. At first the fantasy/adventure aspect is almost too much. However, Byron has created an interesting world, particularly with the first trilogy which was actually a Conan-esque fantasy, and I've grown to really like the band's music a lot, it can be very evocative and entertaining. Byron has stated in interviews that the next trilogy will probably highlight a different aspect of his literary inspirations. So far high fantasy and old fashioned adventure stories, next.. who knows, it'll be interesting for sure though.

1995... A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria
1996... Starfire Burning Upon the Ice Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule
1998... Battle Magic
1999... The Power Cosmic
2001... Atlantis Ascendant

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