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Bal-Sagoth – Battle Magic (Reissue) Award winner

Battle Magic (Reissue)
by Anton Sanatov at 29 December 2016, 8:59 PM

Once you’ve spent a fair number of your vital years traversing the enchanting lands of magical excess, it’s hard not to go back down the rabbit hole. For once you have bathed your curiosities in the secrets of another world, the one you are destined to inhabit shall only make you longing for adventure all the more.

The British Symphonic/Black Metal collective BAL-SAGOTH have been exploring the realms of lore since the late 1980’s, pushing boundaries of the Metal world and reciting their travels to listeners through their epic musical eclecticism. Thus perhaps it is only natural that fans of the band shall yearn to hear one or two of their classic tales yet again, possibly in further detail and with a few extra anecdotes to set the scenes. Well, BAL-SAGOTH are clearly more than happy to oblige, for they are continuing to re-release their catalogue of mythical escapades with a remastered version of their 1998 offering “Battle Magic”.

Opening up this opus is the playful yet epic title intro that pulls the listener into an other-worldly kingdom of colourful symphonic tones and mystical compositional grandeur; something that is reminiscent of John Williams’ work on Jurassic Park. The band then seem to commence the fight of their lives as the horns blare and give way to the sound of embracing metal as “Naked Steel”, “Tale From The Deep Woods” and “Return To The Praesdium Of Woods” sees the band call to their creative forces and blend DIO-inspired Heavy Metal riffs with a Death Metal intensity and a progressive Symphonic aesthetic, giving birth to an overwhelming tapestry of exquisite thrashing.

Following another entrancing and uplifting interlude of “Crystal Shards” the band begins to apply a much more melodic essence to their songs, choosing to slow things down and focus on the narrative of the record with tracks like “When Rides The Scion Of Storms” and “Blood Slakes The Sand At Circus Maximus”, where the spoken-word litany of Byron Roberts is accompanied by sharp, almost groovy riffs and triumphant marching rhythms.

The production on the record is very crisp, and whilst the polishing touches of remastering are not too blatant, the sound is perhaps lacking some of the “weight” of the original recording; though with that being said, the resulting clarity is beyond revelatory and truly infuses every note with a spellbound touch, making the extensive arrangements all the more grandiose.

Overall – this is a must have for Tolkien fans. “Battle Magic” is a wondrous conceptual undertaking that is not simply a stunning music enterprise but also an interesting conceptual landscape of extraordinary fantasy. The re-released album also features an expanded lyric booklet along with brand new cover artwork and should prove to be a delight for long-time followers of the band.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

  1. Battle Magic
  2. Naked Steel
  3. Tale From The Deep Woods
  4. Return To The Praesdium Of Woods
  5. Crystal Shards
  6. The Dark Liege Of Chaos Is Unleashed At The Ensorcelle
  7. When Rides The Scion Of Storms
  8. Bloods Slakes The Sand At Circus Maximus
  9. Thwarted By The Dark (Blade Of The Vampire Hunter)
  10. And Atlantis Falls…
Byron Roberts - Vocals
Jonny Maudling - Keyboards
Chris Maudling - Guitar
Paul Jackson - Drums
Alistair MacLatchy - Bass
Record Label: Cacophonous Records


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