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Battle Dagorath - Eternal Throne (5/10) - USA - 2008

Genre: Black Metal / Ambient
Label: Mercenary Musik
Playing time: 58:06
Band homepage: Battle Dagorath

Tracklist:

  1. Dämmerstunde (Einklang)
  2. Dead Eyes Of The Moon
  3. Ruin Upon The Mountainside
  4. The Dark Fire, The Black Gate
  5. The Marching Shadows Of Eternal Death
  6. Under The Warlord Spell
  7. Carn Dûm
  8. In The Forest Of Frozen Darkness
  9. Archetyp Des Schicksals (Ausklang)
Battle Dagorath - Eternal Throne

There is truly a magical aura around J. R. R. Tolkien’s life and works. The impact his prose and ideas have had on the world culture is immense not only in the mainstream art but also – and in this case to a very high extent – in the Metal universe. The Californian band BATTLE DAGORATH, which have recently managed to release their debut album “Eternal Throne” exemplifies this statement perfectly. However trite these introduction words may sound, few, I believe, would disagree with them, and besides – there has been said countless things concerning Tolkien, hence it feels actually as if everything one could say in this matter would be considered as banal.

 

Setting focus on the American band’s name, inspiration as well as label informing about their music style (Epic Black Metal), it was nearly impossible not to think of other ensemble than the duet from Austria called SUMMONING. These Tolkien freaks have created their very own way of presenting the world of Middle Earth so the thought of meeting a theoretically similar band made me quite eager to get down to listening to “Eternal Throne”.

 

Whereas the atmospheric ambient introduction created by Christoph Ziegler of VINTERRIKET (who is the author of the outro tune as well) confirmed in a way my expectations towards Americans’ music, the following piece made me somewhat confused and the associations with the afore-mentioned Austrian group became strictly narrowed to their first full-length called “Lugburz”, which was a pure Black Metal release. So what makes then “Eternal Throne” labelled as epic? One of the features, which allow this is undoubtedly the way the vocals were recorded. Whilst listening to them I get the feeling, that they reach my ears coming out of some dark abyss echoing for a while before the next wave of hateful screams is being released. Another thing is the length of the songs (sometimes exceeding seven or even ten minutes), as well as the presence of some key passages. It is though mainly the vocals, which give this music a kind of spatial and monumental touch. Calling BATTLE DAGORATH’s effort a music monument would be however an exaggeration. To be honest, with exception of certain fragments, the album does not offer anything remarkable or exciting.

 

The second track “Dead Eyes Of The Moon” sets off admittedly really good continuing with the epic feeling of the instrumental intro and presenting interesting slow-paced Black riffs, though this atmosphere vanishes later on in a sound blizzard of a rather ordinary sort and quality, which leaves a bit to be desired. Much more fragments, which really attract one’s attention appear actually no sooner than on the fourth track titled “The Dark Fire, The Black Gate”. This composition together with “The Marching Shadows Of Eternal Death” include some of the best moments on the whole CD. Unfortunately this is too little to make this record a memorable one. If you take for instance guitar work in the latter track somewhere around beginning of the third minute and compare it to the rest, I am more than sure you will understand what I mean and notice what it is about.

 

Practically each song on “Eternal Throne” is monotonous and a little bit too long, which is the main reason for the average overall rate. Perhaps adding a bit more variety to the tracks would do then? Well, I thought so actually, though, when I listened to the song number nine “In The Forest Of Frozen Darkness” I realised, that monotony in compositions might not be the band’s biggest trouble. While pretty much is going on in this record (several tempo changes, usage of keyboards) it does not really absorb me by any riffs, any synth passages, by anything. The only conclusion can therefore be as follows: BATTLE DAGORATH are at the moment somewhat incapable of making really good tracks no matter if these are meant to be rather straightforward Black Metal killers or more complex, epic pieces. It does not certainly mean that Americans are poor as far as music skills are concerned, the thing is, that some decent parts are simply overwhelmed by mediocre fragments instead of being developed and put to the fore.

All in all, “Eternal Throne” has not met my expectations, which were quite huge mostly because of Tolkien inspiration, associations with SUMMONING, cooperation with VINTERRIKET as well as the beautiful cover art, which by the way provided the band an additional point in this review. Of course, there are certainly people who will appreciate this stuff, yet it would probably be exclusively die-hard Black Metal maniacs. Everyone else can look out for something more diverse and interesting.

(Online May 24, 2008)

Sebastian Jazdzewski



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