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Review: Atlantean Kodex - The Golden Bough
Atlantean Kodex
The Golden Bough

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Year released: 2010
Duration: 65:25
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 5+/5

Review online: September 12, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
The Golden Bough


This is one of the albums I have been most eagerly awaiting this year, and my last hope for a truly great album in a year when other expected works from bands like Grand Magus and Kamelot have disappointed me. Even just hearing a rough mix of "Pilgrim" was enough for me to anticipate this as the album of the year, and I was not wrong. Atlantean Kodex sprang up from nowhere a few years ago and pretty much knocked my block off with The Pnakotic Demos, fueling my fever to get a hold of this, their full-length debut. The question on the minds of everyone who loved that EP was: can they possibly match it? Finally here, The Golden Bough proves that they can indeed.

Fear not, for this is the deliverance from false metal we all hoped for, as there is no metal truer than this. The Golden Bough thunders and shimmers like a storm of everything True Metal is supposed to be. The riffs are worthy of Quorthon at his best, the melodies are beyond haunting, and the production is heavy as a fucking iron warhammer. The album opens up in grand style with the massive "Fountain of Nepenthe" before it gets even better with "Pilgrim" – an interpretation of the Sacred King myth that may be the best Epic Metal song ever written by anybody. This one song sums up everything Atlantean Kodex is about, and if that was the only song they had ever recorded they would still be legendary. "The White Goddess" is a short instrumental before the mind-blowing riffs of "Temple of Katholic Magic" come thundering out and leave your jaw on the floor.

The album does hit a weak spot then, with "Disciples of the Iron Crown" – a good song but not the unadulterated mastery of the others – and "Vesperal Hymn", which is good, but not as good as "The White Ship" off The Pnakotic Demos. Fortunately, the band is about to own you with the crushing riffs of "The Atlantean Kodex" and then the super-epic fifteen minutes of "A Prophet in the Forest".

This recording is a perfect example of matching sound to a band, as the performances are spot-on but never overdone. The guitars are heavy but not layered into mush, the drums are warm and alive with no triggers or quantization used. Markus Becker sounds fantastic, as he uses no effects and goes easy on the backing vocals, keeping his voice human and preserving his haunted, lamenting tone. Another nice touch is that the backing vocals are placed separately in space in the mix, so it really sounds like more than one voice, not just one doubled up.

Lyrically The Golden Bough is iconoclastic and magisterial. The band draws heavily on Tolkien, but not in the simpleminded way most bands do, instead using his epic poetry and verse as the basis for their exploration of myth and the magic art throughout European history. I cannot express how awesome it is to have music that is about something for a change. You don't even know.

This review has come out long, as I don't normally go on for very long about most albums, but that is because most albums are not worth talking about. This one is. Atlantean Kodex have fulfilled all the promise of their demos with an album that is not only the best metal music of the year, but one of the most significant and deep albums ever made. With music this awesome, Atlantean Kodex didn't have to put this much thought into their concepts, but they did, and they prove once more that having something to say is what transforms entertainment into art.

Other related information on the site
Review: The Course of Empire (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Golden Bough (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Pnakotic Demos (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The White Goddess (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The White Goddess (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Manuel Trummer (Guitar) on September 12, 2010 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Manuel Trummer (Guitars) on September 8, 2013 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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