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Atlantean Kodex - The Course of Empire Award winner

Atlantean Kodex
The Course of Empire
by Martin Knap at 03 October 2019, 7:31 PM

The Bavarian five-piece ATLANTEAN KODEX has been on my radar since their debut "The Golden Bough" came out. Their melodic, chest-thumpingly epic sound is right up my alley, they blend Doom and Epic Heavy Metal – think of MANILLA ROAD, CIRITH UNGOL, and similar "true" Metal bands – and do an absolutely amazing job of it. Their songs have the slow tempos and melancholia of Doom, but it also the galloping riffs as well as the powerful, uplifting melodies of Classic Heavy Metal. One band in particular with its  majestic, primordial vibes has exerted influence on ATLANTEAN KODEX’s sound and that is latter day BATHORY. The bleak BLACK SABBATH vibes of Doom Metal are tuned down and the melody and catchiness are tuned up in other words. Soaring melodies, anthemic choruses, a rich atmosphere and expansive, well written songs – that’s what I came to expect from this band.

ATLANTEAN KODEX’s output feels like a musical counterpart to epic fantasy and if you like Swords & Sorcery fiction and your prefered drinking vessel is a horn chances are that you’ll be into this band. Lyrical themes on "The Course of Empire" are appropriately epic: the over an hour long album tells a story of warfare, and the feats of heroes of a long gone – or rather mythical – Golden Age of mankind mixed with references to mystical knowledge – the sort of archetypal, romantic stuff from which high fantasy is made off. The band is more than capable of writing a concept album in which lyrics and music complement each other and jointly form a unified dramatic structure. It’s one big epic ride, in other words, and that’s what we metal-heads love, don’t we?

The intro is an uplifting musical theme which is repeated at the end of the title song (second to last track on the album), which strengthens the sense of continuity on the album. "The Course of Empire" consists of six songs that are between circa seven and ten minutes long, plus some interludes. The album opens with a very strong number, "People of the Moon," that has a slightly up-tempo, groovy verse with a powerful riff; the chorus is slow and has a solemn, anthemic feeling to it. The song has a beautiful atmospheric break with soaring vocal and guitar melodies gradually building up momentum which leads to a climactic ending with an harmonious vocal interplay of lead and backing vocals. So we have a really strong start and there is no drop in quality throughout the album.

"Chariots" has a long ominous intro with a gradual buildup – with guitar leads and majestic keys that sound like coming straight from BATHORY’s "Hammerheart" – the verse is fast and heavy with a galloping, groovy riff, the chorus is really slow, but all the more impactful. The mournful, mid-tempo "A Secret Byzantium" has strong BATHORY vibes, the opening riff sounds like it’s lifted from a BATHORY song. It has a plodding verse and a solemn chorus with a beautiful, soaring melody. "Spell of the Western Sea," on the other hand, is much more uplifting, the verse is pretty upbeat and the a folky riff in the chorus gives it a joyous vibe. The last song "The Course of Empire" is also full of memorable riffs and melodies, it’s the longest song on the album and it’s just as epic as one would expect a closer of such an album to be. The album closes with a ambient-ish outro, which is really nicely produced, just as all the interludes and atmospheric parts in the individual songs.

This album is loaded with strong hooks and fantastic riffs, all the songs are memorable and well written. The album as a whole flows really well, and the band knows how to create a sort of enchanting, mystical atmosphere that really makes them stand out. The performances are an absolute treat – the guitar work and drumming is excellent, the singer has great pipes but also sings with feeling. This is a must listen for all Doom and Heavy Metal fans.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Alpha and the Occident (Rising from Atlantean Tombs)
2. People of the Moon (Dawn of Creation)
3. Lion of Chaldea (The Heroes' Journey)
4. Chariots (Descending from Zagros)
5. The Innermost Light (Sensus Fidei)
6. A Secret Byzantium (Numbered as Sand and the Stars)
7. He Who Walks Behind the Years (Place of Sounding Drums)
8. Spell of the Western Sea (Among Wolves and Thieves)
9. The Course of Empire (All Thrones in Earth and Heaven)
10. Die Welt von Gestern (Abendland)
Michael Koch - Guitars (lead)
Mario Weiss – Drums
Markus Becker – Vocals
Florian Kreuzer – Bass
Manuel Trummer - Guitars (rhythm)
Coralie Baier - Guitars (lead)
Record Label: Van Records


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