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Countess - Ancient Lies And Battle Cries

Ancient Lies And Battle Cries
by Julius "Dreadheart" Mikkela at 03 July 2014, 7:25 PM

When I was introduced to COUNTESS, their sound was described as a harsh mix between Black and Traditional Heavy Metal – a kind of MANOWAR meets VENOM – and needless to say I was intrigued. In an age where Metal is really testing its limits, it can be nice and reassuring to just lean back and spin some of the good ol’ stuff and styles that are simple, pure and just enjoyable in a timeless kind of way.

And for the most part, that’s exactly what “Ancient Lies And Battle Cries” provides. The music is and ultra-simplistic form of old-school Heavy Metal with a touch of early days Black metal harshness and some Symphonic compositions in the background to give the album a nudge of epic – almost like a very stripped-down, and not nearly as good, form of BATHORY in some ways. The lyrical inspirations are MANOWAR-esque, as the song titles will easily give away, but as expected not nearly on the same level of cheesy sophistication as the Kings of Metal.

Apart from the last track “The Last Temple”, which is an oddly RAINBOW-reminiscent Progressive track (arguably the best song on the album), there really aren’t any surprises among the songs. After finishing the 10 minute long first track, “Battle Sky”, you should have a crystal clear idea what the remaining 8 songs will be like, but with enough variation to stay alive. There are a lot of head bump-friendly riffs and melodies, and some, like “Pray For The Cult”, are actually really enjoyable.

But there are aspects of “Ancient Lies And Battle Cries” that will make COUNTESS fall flat to many listeners. The first of which are the vocals of Orlok, who completely fail to provide any resemblance of power or inspiration in his quasi-Black Metal screeches. It’s actually to the point where the album might have been better without vocals. The second is their sound quality, which is clearly sub-par and combined with the weak vocals and COUNTESS simplistic style of the music makes the whole thing sound hollow and unrefined – kind of like a garage demo.

And that’s kind of a shame, because the world of Metal could really use something simple, stripped-down and just fun in these days when everything gets more complex, more massive and sometimes more absurd. And maybe COUNTESS will be that for some, but it will take a better effort than “Ancient Lies And Battle Cries” to convince most listeners.

2 Star Rating

1. Battle Sky
2. Call Of The Ancient Pantheon
3. By Hammer And Blood
4. Vengeance Of The Slain
5. Beneath The Eye Of Wisdom
6. Confessions Of A Polytheist
7. Pray For The Cult
8. Cursed Seed Of Aten
9. Burn The Throne
10. The Last Temple
Orlok – Vocals, Bass
Zagan - Guitars
Record Label: Independent


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