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Review: Runeshard - Shadowbane

Label: Independent
Year released: 2021
Duration: 32:08
Tracks: 5
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: October 4, 2021
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.5/5 (70%) (2 Votes)

When it comes to bands that exist to imitate classic Bal-Sagoth, Runeshard were there before it was cool. Now with Kull and Wizardthrone at it as well, we have what almost amounts to a small trend. I don't think the Bal-Sagoth sound will ever again be quite equaled, because you have to put compositional ability along with just the right vocal performance, and not even Kull—which contains four fifths of the old Bal-Sagoth lineup—has all the elements together.

Runeshard's music is a bit more nakedly imitative than maybe is good for it, and in places this sounds so much like Bal-Sagoth it will make you double-check that it really isn't. But it lacks the musical exuberance of the old days of the Maudling brothers. Vocalist Henry Mahy (the man behind the very similar Zel Agganor) hits the narration better than maybe any other imitator alive today, but his rasps are not quite as sharp as I would like, and his narration is underused. The real X-factor is the crazy SF/Sword & Sorcery stew that Byron traded on and that nobody else can really match. So, this hits close to the sound of old Bal-Sagoth, but doesn't have the same insane, excessive lyrical attack with the Lovecraftian vocabulary and the 30-word song titles. Still, it's a good time.

More about Runeshard...
Review: Dreaming Spire (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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