Battle Dagorath - Cursed Storm of Ages
De Tenebrarum Principio
Black Metal
9 songs (100' 51")
Release year: 2013
De Tenebrarum Principio
Reviewed by Andy

Battle Dagorath's winter-themed black metal hasn't changed much in their last few albums, and Cursed Storm of Ages continues their sound without adding to or subtracting much from it. The listener is in for plenty of modern USBM grimness -- tremolo-picked guitars, drumset hammering for all it's worth, and frontman Black Sorcerer Battle's (I am not making this up) screeched lyrics. This is a "semi-ambient" black metal band, so you can expect some keyboard work and sampling as well.

And they indulge deeply in the sampling, right from the start. First track The Tomb Lies Deep Beyond at the End of Time is five minutes of tomb sounds! (Editor's note: The reviewer has never actually been in a tomb, let alone a deep one at the end of time, so the similarity is only determined from movies). There are mysterious whispers, the distant grating of stone, and a sense of echoing depth that is very nicely sampled, though it seems rather excessive to make the listeners wait in said tomb for that long. But if one takes the length of the intro track against the song tracks, maybe it all balances out, for this is a band that appears to enjoy long songs. Cloud, Shadow, Earth & Flesh and Processional Across Dreamed Landscapes both blast the listener with a lonely, windswept sonic landscape; their minor key riffs and varied drumming, punctuated by quieter lulls to the fierceness in the rest of the tracks, make these into mini-albums in their own right. Battle Dagorath shows a sense of drama in their sampling: for instance, when Processional Across Dreamed Landscapes puts in a pounding sample repeat partway through that sounded somewhere between a factory and a forced march (due to the title, I'd say a forced march would be the best guess). The echoing clean-picked guitar breaks build back up to the high-speed tremolo picking, but they're a welcome break and make the songs a lot better. Macrocosmic Haunting Vision is more of a solid wall of sound, with thudding double-kick bass and another sampled interlude working its way back up; while the downside is that it makes the tracks sound very similar, it does somewhat make the sound their own.

The main weakness of Battle Dagorath is their ambient side. While the ambient tracks certainly sound ominous and are very well-made, they take a rather long time to get over, and for one craving a harsher experience (after all, we are listening to a black metal album), it seems like they make the pacing of the album way slower than it ought to be. The one exception to this is Awakened by the Spell of the Wind, which, although suffering from similar issues to the other ambient tracks (too long), has some more "black metal" ambience to it, as the keyboards give way towards the end to a rasping guitar riff that is well-mixed and definitely gives the album more of a sonic palette than it would otherwise have. The last two regular tracks, Interdimensional Passageway Between Worlds and Myth of the Cold Ghost Sea, return to a black metal sound but appear to be milder, with the guitars buried further down in the mix. Both actually are better in my opinion than the first ones; they provide a similar minor-key melody and a cold feel, but in a cleaner and simpler way than other music on the album, with Myth of the Cold Ghost Sea, especially, living up to its name with a freezing, faraway quality to the sound.

This obviously isn't going to be for everyone, but it's still quite enjoyable, especially if you skip over most of the ambient tracks. The length of the tracks and the idiosyncratic nature of the album leads one to feel that Battle Dagorath is the sort of band which, in the original spirit of black metal, you can take or leave, and they won't care too much because this is their self-expression. Cursed Storm of Ages, like past albums of theirs, is a reasonably good album, that only suffers from a few flaws that can be overlooked by a devoted or non-picky listener to the genre.

Killing Songs :
Processional Across Dreamed Landscapes, Awakened by the Spell of the Wind, Interdimensional Passageway Between Worlds, Myth of the Cold Ghost Sea
Andy quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Battle Dagorath that we have reviewed:
Battle Dagorath - Eternal Throne reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
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