Battle Dagorath – Cursed Storm of Ages

battledagorathThere are a lot of terms that are carelessly cast around in relation to metal, especially of the black variety, with a frequency that renders them essentially meaningless. Cold, grim, haunting, majestic, and the most nebulous of all: atmospheric. Cursed Storm of Ages is one of those rare examples where the descriptions actually match the object. That’s not say that Battle Dagorath has sent forth an album that is especially shocking or groundbreaking, but what they have created is a 2 disc monstrosity of, and I feel this is a very appropriate use of the term, atmospheric black metal that was crafted with a degree of skill in both songwriting and texture that most bands claiming membership to the sub-sub-sub genre can never claim.

The obscure figures behind Cursed Storm of Ages possess an intrinsic and pretty damn close to perfect understanding of just what makes an atmospheric metal album work. The songs here are long, even for the standards of the genre, and unfold as slowly and patiently as a merciless winter reaching its bitter fingers down from the north. A careful interplay between hypnotic repetition and gripping hooks (well, as much of a hook as you’ll hear in the style) is upheld throughout, ensuring that these glacially shifting songs rarely fail at casting their spell over the listener. What’s more impressive is how each of these compositions, exceeding the 10 minute mark in most cases, has it’s own distinct character. The relentless assault that transitions into the ominous and apocalyptic ending of Cloud, Shadow, Earth & Flesh, the stirring synth and Summoning-esque dirge of Awakened by the Spell of the Wind, that eerie and sinister clean guitar melody that crawls out from the black spaces between the stars in Macrocosmic Haunting Vision… I could go on for a long time, but it suffices to say that this album does what all atmospheric albums should strive to: evoke fantastical and otherworldly imagery and emotion.

Shorter interlude tracks provide minimal, though carefully composed and layered, synth and field recording laced respite from the harsher and thicker main tracks. These interludes aren’t especially memorable on their own, but in the context of the whole they are a both tasteful and effective addition to the cold, astral landscapes that Battle Dagorath are intent on carrying a willing listener through.

There are a couple of complaints I could put to Cursed Storm of Ages. The production sounds over compressed to me, especially on the vocals. A fuller sound might have really drawn more of the meticulously textured riffs and synth to the forefront. I didn’t personally find this especially distracting, but I also think the production on Forest Poetry is just fine, so I may not be the greatest judge for listeners with more high fidelity tastes. Many listeners may also find the aesthetic of the album rather bland. While other black metal bands with their claws in the contemporary atmospheric “scene”, such as Midnight Odyssey, Vemod, or Echtra, offer music that is aesthetically fresh and unique, Battle Dagorath seems content to stick with many of the old templates stemming back to the Norwegian scene of the early 90s. They pull it off in a way that doesn’t feel contrived, and don’t sound quite like any other band out there right now, but it will likely be a turnoff for some anyway. For the rest of us, these complaints are a minor disturbance in the entrancing spell weaved by these western sorcerers.

-Jake Moran

ATMF

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~ by jakemoran on April 17, 2013.

One Response to “Battle Dagorath – Cursed Storm of Ages”

  1. Well-written Jake. You made me curious, have to check out some samples… I love it when bands make ultra-ambitious, mega-epic, double disc behemoths work.

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