|Review: Scald - Agyl's Saga|
Label: Wroth Emitter Productions
Year released: 2013
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: June 27, 2017
Reviewed by: Omni
Scald was formed out of the ashes of Ross when vocalist Maxim "Agyl" Andrianov and drummer Aleksandr "Ottar" Kudryashov became interested in creating music in an epic style that celebrated their Russian heritage. With the addition of Ivan "Harald" Sergeev and Vladimir "Karry" Ryzhkovskiy on guitars, with the latter also providing keyboards, and Ilya "Velingor" Timashev on bass, the band was complete. Scald recorded a demo entitled North Winds in 1994 and a full-length album entitled Will of the Gods Is Great Power in 1996. Sadly, Agyl passed away in 1997, and Scald was no more. This two-disc compilation was released as a tribute to Agyl's musical vision.
The first disc features the entire debut album with the tracks in the original running order used for the cassette version of the album. These tracks combine the epic doom majesty of early Candlemass with the Viking rhythms of Manowar and Bathory. Agyl's emotive vocals are perfectly suited to this style of music, with songs such as "Night Sky" and "A Tumulus" showcasing his powerful and dynamic voice. Bolstered by the slow, pounding Viking advance of the rhythm section, the guitarists lay down distinctive and heavy guitar riffs and beautiful lead parts, occasionally accompanied by keyboards in a manner that never threatens to overwhelm the guitars as in so many other epic bands. The sound quality on this disc is substantially improved from previous versions of the album, indicating that a superior audio source was used. On its own, this makes the compilation worth seeking out for fans of the original album. "In the Open Sea" closes out this album, and uninitiated listeners with a taste for epic heavy metal would do well to take heed of this mighty track.
The second disc begins with songs from the band's early days as Ross, played in a punky and metallic rock style. Agyl's vocals on these tracks lack the emotion and conviction of his later work. The songs included comprise a 1991 demo recording and a handful of live tracks. This material is historically interesting for completionist fans and is solid on its own, but it lacks the impact of the other music to be found here. After this diversion, two songs from a Scald rehearsal tracks and a version of "Sepulchral Bonfire" from the North Winds demo bring this disc to a close. These early recordings are more raw and less refined than the album versions of the same songs, but they still showcase everything that made Scald such a standout band. The demo version of "Sepulchral Bonfire" had previously been featured as a bonus track on the CD version of Will of the Gods Is Great Power. Those interested in Scald's history will find this disc very satisfying.
This compilation is a worthy chronicle of Scald's music. In the aftermath of Agyl's passing, Scald dissolved and the remaining members of the band formed Tumulus. Agyl's unique vision lives on in the songs available here, and the vastly improved audio quality makes this a worthy purchase for those who already enjoy Will of the Gods Is Great Power. The first disc of the album also features over twenty minutes of rehearsals as bonus material concealed in the pregap before the first track. Those who are able to access this material will even be treated to a cover of the title track from Manowar's Hail to England! Any fan of classic epic metal with strong vocals would do well to seek this compilation out. It's not to be missed.
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|Review: Will of the Gods is Great Power (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)|
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