Archive for the ‘Lost in Time’ Category

Bal Sagoth are a band that I stumbled upon just as they released what would prove to be (hopefully only thus far) their final album. ‘The Chthonic Chronicles’ was the closing chapter to a six record concept that baffles the mind. Started with ‘A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria’, Bal Sagoth took listeners across the Multiverse, through space battles and tales of ancient magic and power. It was the kind of high fantasy concept that I love now, but hadn’t quite fallen for yet in 2006. I appreciated ‘The Chthonic Chronicles’ as a record originally; a heady mix of symphonic black metal with dramatic spoken word segments. But, to truly understand the Multiverse in which it is set, you really need to listen to all six records.

I have done so, but never back to back. It’s something I have wanted to do but have never found the time. Each record has their own additions to the saga, and some concepts or narratives cross albums. Frankly, I’m amazed they didn’t disappear up their own arses with it (well, maybe they did and that’s why they haven’t released anything in so long). Influenced strongly by the tales of Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft, the Multiverse is the alternative reality where vocalist and lyricist Byron Roberts bases his tales of demigods, disasters, ancient battles and other such things.

You can find a guide to the Bal Sagoth universe here: http://www.bal-sagoth.freeserve.co.uk/glossary.html

An interesting interview with the band on the Metal Hammer website here: http://www.metalhammer.co.uk/news/exclusive-bal-sagoth-discuss-20-years-of-epic-highs-and-lows/ speaks of how the next three Bal Sagoth records have lyrics and cover art already done, so that if the band comes back to life we can expect a new trilogy. If nothing else, you have to appreciate the care and dedication with which the band’s mythos is held together and produced. I admire that a lot. Plus the hexology of the Bal Sagoth saga is made up of strong albums musically, even if they don’t all reach the lofty heights of their seminal ‘Starfire Burning Upon the Ice Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule’. Not only is it their finest work, but it’s probably one of the most metal album names ever.

Please come back to us Bal Sagoth. In these times where such fantasy worlds are becoming more accepted in the mainstream, a band like yourselves would flourish. Imagine, digipack records with comic book style renderings of the songs etc? It’d be a sure fire winner. Well, I’d buy it for sure!

Bandcamp is a pretty cool piece of technologcal advancement. It is like Myspace could have become, if Myspace hadn’t been weighed down and drowned by an enormity of medocrity. Remember when ‘Myspace bands’ was a thing? Anyone with a microphone and a guitar could become an ‘artist’, without allowing for quality control. Bandcamp allows the same thing, but it also allows people to show their appreciation to artists with the ‘name your price’ button.

For me, I try and listen to as much as I can through bands on Bandcamp, and I’ll be honest, I will download for nothing if I can. Not because I don’t want to support the artist, but for two reasons: I much prefer physical releases (CDs etc) to mp3s and, well, I’m a broke small business owner so I have to prioritise my purchases. Therefore, I take advantage of freebies when I can. But it’s not that I don’t appreciate these bands or their music. I have an Excel file of all the records I want to buy. Updating it this afternoon I found I was past 3200 on it. I have also found some incredible releases on Bandcamp and have found new favourite bands (step forward Crypt Lurker).

I also like how Bandcamp allows artists who aren’t signed to a label to sell their own records/merch etc to fund recordings. That’s good, because selling stuff at shows can only go so far. If a small band supports on a few dates in their homeland, they may sell a few CDs or shirts but is not really significant. With an online presence, bands can sell shirts or records all over the world to fans in every corner. Metal reaches every part of the world, so an English black metal band could sell their music to people in Indonesia or Brazil. It’s a wonderful thing.

This is a new thing I’m trying out, where I find a band that I have never heard of before, and probably who are split up and their stuff has become impossible to find/buy for a reasonable price. This week: Catacomb, blackened death metal from France, a new haven of aural devastation with the rise of Deathspell Omega and Gojira. But in 1993, Catacomb released ‘In the Maze of Kadath’, an EP of horrifying, suffocating death metal. Lovecraftian in inspiration, and definitely of the Old Ones in sound, ‘In the Maze of Kadath’ is an undiscovered gem to me. If this came out now, I’d regard it as special. It has that one thing that many new death metal bands are going for, and that’s atmosphere. It’s eerie, reeking of evil and ancient malevolence. The cover is of the Elder God Chthulu, rising from the ocean to spread madness. The striking greyscale cover marks it out from day-glo blood splatter death metal records, and the sound contained within is definitely of a different quality.

I found the EP in full on YouTube which I have linked below, for me the stand out tracks being the harrowing ‘Hallucinated Mountains’ and the crawling ‘Nemesis’. A must for all old school death metal fans