HistoryFormed in 1993 with two Maudling brothers and others and named after the fantasy domain created by Robert E. Howard, the Britons released a demo that got them a deal with England's Cacophonous Records. The band established itself as a dark metal band with themes revolving around fantasy, war and science fiction. They also established themselves as having some of the longest titles ever. And we mean ever!
In 2003, Bal-Sagoth, who was celebrating its tenth anniversary began working on the sixth album. The band also began working on a series of graphic novels, based in the mythological world depicted in its lyrics.
The band was dropped by Nuclear Blast, but returned in 2006 with a new album through Candlelight Music. The band parted ways with drummer Dan Mullins and replaced him with Paul "Wak" Jackson, of Extreme Maggot Infestation and Decimation Of Truth in October, 2007.
In late 2011 Metal Mind Productions re-released three albums by Bal-Sagoth: The Power Cosmic, Atlantis Ascendant and The Chthonic Chronicles. The re-issues included expanded lyric booklets. The albums would be available in a new digipak edition each limited to 2,000 copies. The release date was set for November 14th in Europe and January, 10th 2012 in USA through MVD. Apocryphal Tales (Demo 1993) was issued in 2013. The band was on hiatus officially, but all members except the singer founded a new act called Kull and reported that their debut record as originally meant for Bal-Sagoth.
BAL-SAGOTH - ATLANTIS ASCENDANT - NUCLEAR BLAST
Let me declare my support for peace now if this is typical for Battle Metal. The fifth album of the English mob has the battle-metalling, epic-symphonizing, record length title-composing (The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire Part III, for example), Latin aficionado warriors continue with their insistence to dole out pompous amounts of throw-away riffing complete with copious amounts of - believe it or not - trumpets and keyboards. Constructed with average sound, what occurs to The Metallian time and time again is the average quality of the million riffs recorded here. There is no lack of them, yet not one manages to stand out as excellent. They do their own thing with the whispered vocals, melodic keyboards and long titles, but they will have to do it without my support. - Ali "The Metallian"
BAL-SAGOTH - THE CHTHONIC CHRONICLES - CANDLELIGHT
Nuclear Blast Records knew a thing or two about Bal-Sagoth’s sales figures. That is why the German label dropped the Brits. Sales are not everything, however, and with a sound approximating early Cradle Of Filth one would think Bal-Sagoth would have plenty of fans. Alas, Cradle Of Filth, and bands of that ilk, do not have music fans. Candy commercial bands like that attract fans based on MTV support, hype and marketing campaigns, of which Bal-Sagoth does not have much.
The Chthonic Chronicles, the continuation of the band’s epic concept, is part Emperor, part Rhapsody and part Cradle Of Filth. The band’s vocalist, Byron Roberts, has to be congratulated for his effective and variable vocals. Be it screams, growls or whispers his dramatic and theatrical voice adds quite a bit to the band. Sadly, the pompous music, commercial facets, mega doses of synthesizers and poppy melodies deal the band a death blow from which no act can emerge with its dignity intact. How much keyboard is too much in metal? The correct answer is any amount, although Bal-Sagoth’s knows no limits. The band needs to go into the business of film scores, a career in Hollywood, publishing books or whatever else its imagination allows (my vote is with children’s programming) for this is beyond the pale. At 60 minutes and 12 tracks there is a lot of nonsense loaded unto this disc including the title track of sorts, Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar, the fluid guitars on Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night, the dragging instrumentals The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain and the symphonic To Storm The Cyclopean Gates Of Byzantium and the incoherent and delusionally weak track, Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak. Clearly, it does not take much to write a long review on Bal-Sagoth - just mention any two song names - but listening to songs like The Hammer Of The Emperor (a hint of the band’s heroes), the fake drum sound and the mind-numbing symphonic noises in lieu of a metal song on this one would be forgiven for growing increasingly upset at this masquerade of pop/symphony in lieu of a metal album. - Ali “The Metallian”