The excellent new release from a metal band that’s pushing the envelope of epic Hollywood metal: With Bal-Sagoth, there is now epic Hollywood Death Metal.
Atlantis Ascendant is the latest installment of Bal-Sagoth’s “Hyperborean Empire” saga, a heavy metal opera cycle based upon the work of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. I’ve made mention of Bal-Sagoth’s work in the pages of Ink 19 previously, and let me tell you, I’m even more impressed with this band. There commitment to giving the listener a performance should be hailed across the land as worthy of scholarly attention. To elaborate, the album isn’t simply a collection of songs the band wrote, it is a carefully crafted operatic work, complete with relevant narration and lucid storytelling. The song names (“Star-Maps of the Ancient Cosmographers” — what an opening line: “The Great Eye of the Universe opens!” — “In Search of the Lost Cities of Antarctica,” for example) themselves tell volumes of fantastic adventure. Why, an evening would be well-spent with a glass of excellent wine and Atlantis Ascendant blasting out one’s stereo, eh?
The attention to detail and musical intricacies is also impressive. Shredding guitar work is matched with amazing keyboards and effects, especially on “Draconis Albionensis,” a slick six-minutes-plus musical Disney World ride, complete with sea monsters, high adventure, and chivalry! The same may be said for the awesome “Splendour of a Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath the Blazon of the Hyperborean Empire” and the epic, Arabian Nights feel of “The Dreamer in the Catacombs of Ur” — could it be the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad of metal songs? It’s close. On the darker side is the otherworldy instrumental “The Ghosts of Angkor Wat” — something Lara Croft would soil her panties to, had that been her soundtrack. The same can be said for “Six Keys to the Onyx Pyramid,” another superb epic metal mindscape. Fetch me my axe and armor!
This incredibly ambitious work succeeds and is a landmark in cinematic metal opera for the twenty-first century.