BAL-SAGOTH

Symphonic Black Metal • United Kingdom
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Bal-Sagoth are an extreme metal band from Yorkshire, England, combining elements of black metal, symphonic, and classical music. Vocalist/lyricist Byron Roberts, who came up with the idea for the band around 1989, took the name 'Bal-Sagoth' from a Robert E. Howard short story "The Gods of Bal-Sagoth". Their first demo was released in 1993; they have since released three albums on Cacophonous and three on Nuclear Blast.

The band incorporates black metal elements into an overall grandiose canvas painting a picture of battles in an antediluvian age where Atlantis had not yet been destroyed and the continents were still joined in a Pangaean mass. A predominant feature is the use of epic keyboards played by Jonny Maudling who composes and arranges the music. The guitar ,drums and keyboards work together as an integral entity rather like a symphonic work. The vocals of Byron are a mixture of spoken word and
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Battle MagicBattle Magic
Cacophonous 2016
$10.27
$9.35 (used)
Starfire Burning Upon The Ice Veiled Throne OfStarfire Burning Upon The Ice Veiled Throne Of
Cacophonous 2016
$10.37
$15.56 (used)
Power CosmicPower Cosmic
Nuclear Blast Americ 2000
$9.90
$7.82 (used)
Black Moon Broods Over LemuriaBlack Moon Broods Over Lemuria
Cacophonous 2016
$10.27
$8.12 (used)
The Chtonic Chronicles (Remastered) by Bal-Sagoth (2011-11-29)The Chtonic Chronicles (Remastered) by Bal-Sagoth (2011-11-29)
METAL MIND
$25.64
$27.14 (used)
Atlantic AscendantAtlantic Ascendant
Extra tracks
Tokuma Japan Comm. 2001
$19.21 (used)
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BAL-SAGOTH Discography

BAL-SAGOTH albums / top albums

BAL-SAGOTH A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria album cover 3.60 | 6 ratings
A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria
Symphonic Black Metal 1995
BAL-SAGOTH Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule album cover 3.97 | 10 ratings
Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule
Symphonic Black Metal 1996
BAL-SAGOTH Battle Magic album cover 3.26 | 6 ratings
Battle Magic
Symphonic Black Metal 1998
BAL-SAGOTH The Power Cosmic album cover 3.30 | 6 ratings
The Power Cosmic
Symphonic Black Metal 1999
BAL-SAGOTH Atlantis Ascendant album cover 3.21 | 5 ratings
Atlantis Ascendant
Symphonic Black Metal 2001
BAL-SAGOTH The Chthonic Chronicles album cover 3.34 | 11 ratings
The Chthonic Chronicles
Symphonic Black Metal 2006

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BAL-SAGOTH Reviews

BAL-SAGOTH Battle Magic

Album · 1998 · Symphonic Black Metal
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Mjöllnir
Once their inimitable style was solidified on the previous album, our new great kings of pomp filled extreme metal had only to temper this blade to realise its true potential. This they did with their third epic, “Battle Magic”. Though lacking the power of “Starfire Burning...” with a thinner sound on almost every front, in exchange everything is more cohesive and centred. Keyboards mesh with the basic metal instruments sometimes so entirely that you forget where this band’s sound is rooted, though the tremolo riffs and maddening drums erupt to the forefront enough to pull you back to black metal ground.

Conan the Barbarian-esque flourishes are still here, with more cheesy cosmic “moments” and breakdowns held together by the marching band style of the rhythm section. Byron Roberts continues to mix the haughty narration and black metal rasps, with the same success as before not to mention adding weight to the still highly entertaining fantasy lyrics. The format of the previous album is copied almost exactly, though the songs mostly have a different feel. There’s a keyboard track to start, straight in the middle and one to finish as before for instance. The second part of “The Splendour of a Thousand Swords....” (I’ll let you finish that one!) is present with their longest song title ever (another endearing eccentricity)

Love “Blood Slakes the Sand at the Circus Maximus” with its expansive and sweeping classical and film score character meshing superbly with fist pumping epic metal to create 8 unforgettable minutes with no need for any concise, manic speedy metal. I also adore “Return to the Praesidium of Ys” where Byron exceeds himself with manic narration and symphonic structure spiralling ever onward to the heavens.

You’ll have to abandon any set concept of how black, or even extreme styles of metal in general, should sound and just let yourself get absorbed to enjoy it. The effort is more than worth it, I can’t recommend this band enough!

BAL-SAGOTH The Chthonic Chronicles

Album · 2006 · Symphonic Black Metal
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Warthur
Half a decade had passed since Atlantis Ascendant, but when Bal-Sagoth returned for The Chthonic Chronicles little in the way of musical growth could be discerned. If anything, I think their symphonic black metal sound has regressed a bit - it's competently performed stuff, but the compositions are a bit too neatly divided into "narrative bit, symphonic bit, black metal bit" for my liking. Hardcore fans of the band will enjoy their continued exploration of classic pulp fantasy, SF and horror themes through the strange black metal/power metal mashup they offer, but to be honest I find that Bal-Sagoth are a joke which has run its course by now.

BAL-SAGOTH Atlantis Ascendant

Album · 2001 · Symphonic Black Metal
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Warthur
Bal-Sagoth's Atlantis Ascendant might be a retread of the musical approach of The Power Cosmic combined with the fantasy-focused subject matter of earlier Bal-Sagoth albums, but the tighter songwriting, more polished production values, and high-quality performances make it a small bit significant improvement to the band's black metal/power metal mashup formula. In particular, the vocals are better judged here than on many preceding Bal-Sagoth releases, with the narration no longer being quite as overbearing as it used to be. The end result is a reasonably entertaining album if you're really into their particular schtick. Is it spectacularly silly? Of course it is, that's why we love Bal-Sagoth in the first place.

BAL-SAGOTH The Power Cosmic

Album · 1999 · Symphonic Black Metal
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Warthur
Bal-Sagoth are back on form with The Power Cosmic, which expands their palette of subject matter to take on science fiction of the sort depicted in the Silver Surfer and other Jack Kirby comics from Marvel. With tighter compositions and less intrusive narration than Battle Magic - as well as better production values - the album succeeds at reinvigorating the Bal-Sagoth sound and emerging at last from the long shadow Robert E. Howard's fantasy work cast over the band's works, and with this expansion of their SF/fantasy subject matter comes a somewhat more varied and sound. Bal-Sagoth are not everyone's cup of tea - sometimes they aren't even mine - but this time around they've moved in the right direction, though the cleaner production does make their "power metal style, black metal attitude" formula a little bit too transparent.

BAL-SAGOTH Battle Magic

Album · 1998 · Symphonic Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
I find that on Bal-Sagoth's third album their schtick begins to wear thin. As fun an idea it is to fuse black metal and power metal, crib from Robert E. Howard to cook up the the lyrics, and crank the cheese factor up to 11, you do have to ask yourself exactly how many albums in this vein anyone really needs - and Battle Magic seems to be something of a step down from Starfire Burning. To my ears, the production - particularly on the systhesisers - sounds cheap and thin, and the compositions fail to hold my attention the same as the songs on the previous albums did.

I guess it's an OK album if you're really into the whole Bal-Sagoth thing, but I suspect most of us can get by with just their top-tier albums.

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