Bal-Sagoth - The Power Cosmic
Nuclear Blast
Sci-Fi Symphonic Extreme Metal
8 songs (41:15)
Release year: 1999
Bal-Sagoth, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

In my mind, there isn’t a metal band in the world more original than Bal-Sagoth. Their blend of symphonic black metal and power metal, with semi-flowery melodies, in-your-face-keys, and ridiculous narrations filled with mind-numbing adjectives that tell the stories of their albums has never been successfully matched in the metal scene, and I’m perfectly fine with that. The band is somewhat of an underground gem, and the people who can get into Bal-Sagoth’s sound are content with having the one and only original, without having to deal with a slew of half-assed clones. I am one of those people, and will admit that they’re easily one of my top three metal bands ever, and simultaneously, sort of a guilty pleasure. But they are at least consistent, and have produced thus far six albums, all of which I thoroughly enjoy listening to (Though I almost don't like Atlantis Ascendant). Bal-Sagoth is about the only band where I can’t pick out a favorite album from their catalog; all of them are great for their own reasons. But out of the six albums, their fourth, The Power Cosmic, was the first Sal-Sagoth album I ever heard, and in my opinion is one of their better releases.

Like all of Bal-Sagoth’s albums, this one tells a sci-fi/fantasy story that’s nigh impossible to follow without Google. It revolves around a demigod named Zurra that has escaped imprisonment and is now scouring the universe so that he can reassemble something called the Empyreal Lexicon. I don’t know all of the specifics to the story (and I’ll admit that I pulled these facts from The Power Cosmic Wiki page), but I do know that there’s a large cast of characters, including The Silver Surfer, Thor, and Galactus… yes, the ones from the Marvel Comics. It’s completely ridiculous, I know, and I still have no idea what the hell is really going on, but by the time the album is over I’ve been completely pulled in to this bizarre universe. Bal-Sagoth knows how to make epic music, and as the album goes on, it gets more and more epic to the point of being colossal in scope, courtesy of the staggeringly huge key and lead guitar-driven melodies and Byron Robert’s ridiculous (Yet still kinda cool, at least to me) narrations, which talk of great evil and the destroying of worlds. Even if you don’t know what’s going on in the story, it’s hard not to be entertained.

The music itself is, as always with Bal-Sagoth, great. The Power Cosmic is the band’s follow-up to their third album, Battle Magic, and a few changes have taken place in their sound in the years time that separates the two albums. The first noticeable change is that this album isn’t nearly as bouncy and silly sounding as its predecessor; This time around, Bal-Sagoth goes for a much more epic, tech-ish feel to match the outer-space theme. This is most noticeable in The Empyreal Lexicon, which relies heavily on spacey keyboard melodies that have a very sci-fi feel to them. The Power Cosmic is also one of the band’s most guitar-centric albums, being topped only by 2006’s The Chthonic Chronicles. The lead guitar often plays the melody here, often as much as the keys, and this really diversifies the band’s sound more than you’d think. But the real magic is the combination of the guitars and keys that make the music densely packed with sound; having so much going on at one time really adds to the epic feel of the album. The Power Cosmic is the first of two Bal-Sagoth albums to feature Dave Mackintosh on drums, who later went on to join DragonForce. If you know DF’s sound, then you know what to expect from the drumming here. Loads of double bass and double time snare hits dominate the album, but the slower sections give you a chance to hear his talents that you wouldn’t hear on a DragonForce album. Lord Byron’s vocals alternate between his low-voiced narration and his black metal shriek as usual, though I must say that his narration sounds a bit weaker on The Power Cosmic than it ever has. But that’s a very small complaint, and does little to nothing to bring down my score on this album.

The Power Cosmic is Bal-Sagoth’s shortest album by far, clocking in at 41 minutes; their next shortest album is Atlantis Ascendant, which comes in at around 49 minutes in length. But with just eight tracks, this is also one of the band’s most well-balanced albums. Other than the one-and-a-half-minute intro, the songs average at around 6 minutes in length, the longest not even breaching the 7-minute mark. This means that we have seven tracks that are perfect in length for Bal-Sagoth’s sound, and they never drag out longer than needed. The production isn’t too great, though; while none of the instruments overshadow each other, everything sounds… almost weak, I should say. I just feel that with such an epic scope to the music, the production really should be better. But I still love this album for what it is, and if you’re a fan of cheesy, epic, bombastic, symphonic extreme metal, then you can’t go wrong with Bal-Sagoth, or The Power Cosmic.

As all life was created from Chaos… So shall it be DESTROYED!!!

Killing Songs :
The Voyagers Beneath The Mare Imbrium, The Empyreal Lexicon, Callisto Rising, The Scourge Of The Fourth Celestial Host
Kyle quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Bal-Sagoth that we have reviewed:
Bal-Sagoth - The Chthonic Chronicles reviewed by Andrew and quoted 96 / 100
Bal-Sagoth - Battle Magic reviewed by Jay and quoted 68 / 100
Bal-Sagoth - Atlantis Ascendant reviewed by Danny and quoted 73 / 100
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