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Review: Bal-Sagoth - Battle Magic
Battle Magic

Label: Cacophonous Records
Year released: 1998
Duration: 50:00
Tracks: 10
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: July 17, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Battle Magic

Rated 4.04/5 (80.8%) (25 Votes)

Ahhhhhhh. This is the third album from the mighty Bal-Sagoth, the lords of epic black/war/weird metal. Hard to believe this was released back in ’98, as it does not sound the least bit dated. But then, Bal-Sagoth have always been ahead of their time. Was there another metal album put out in 1995 to equal the originality of "A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria"? I do not think so.

Bal-Sagoth are one of those bands you either get, or you don’t. (Of course if you don’t, curse you for a devil-spawned thrall of evil, you varlet!) With a sound like a blasphemous mating between Dimmu Borgir and and the "Gladiator" soundtrack, Bal-Sagoth have a style all their own, and no one else sounds even remotely like them. If you’ve never heard them, imagine a black metal band with epic symphonic keyboards and vocals that range between a BM shriek and a deep theatrical narrative voice. If you have heard them, then you already know what to expect, and "Battle Magic" doesn’t disappoint.

After the superlative "Starfire Burning", Bal-Sagoth had a tough act to follow, but they managed to equal that fine CD with some of the strongest material of their career. "Naked Steel", "A Tale From the Deep Woods" (a personal fave), and the very cool "When Rides the Scion of Storms" are excellent examples of the Bal-Sagoth sound at it’s best. Only "Blood Slakes the Sand at the Circus Maximus" comes across as a bit self-indulgent and overblown. More overblown than this band usually is, I mean.

The cover art is super cool, reminding me of the guy who does the BoltThrower covers, and the interior design is good as well. All the lyrics are crammed in here complete with narration – even the elephantine second chapter of the "Hyperborean Empire" trilogy is here in its entirety. Am I the only one who thinks it would be cool if Bal-Sagoth included a comic book with every CD? That would rule.

Another stellar CD from this most unique of bands. If you are a Bal-Sagoth fan and you are missing this one, grab it as soon as you can, as "Battle Magic" contains some of the band’s defining moments, and remains one of their best works.

Other related information on the site
Review: A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Apocryphal Tales (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Atlantis Ascendant (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Battle Magic (reviewed by Ulysses)
Review: Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Chthonic Chronicles (reviewed by Jason Cominetto)
Review: The Chthonic Chronicles (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Chthonic Chronicles (reviewed by Ulysses)
Review: The Power Cosmic (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Byron (Vocals) on April 6, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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