Scald - Will of Gods is a Great Power
Ordo MCM
Melodic Epic Doom
10 songs (86'14")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

I could start this review by plunging right away into a lecture on what epic metal should sound like, just like probably every other Scald review starts. Provided you know who Scald are. And since I am willing to bet not many heard about this Russian band (much to my chagrin I didn’t either), I would rather take this opportunity to provide context on the times under which Will of Gods is a Great Power was created.

Late 90s in Russia weren’t much better than chaotic early 90s when Soviet Union fell apart. The city of Yaroslavl, where Scald is from, is a small provincial town 160 mi northeast of Moscow. Life in Yaroslavl in 1997 was tough and main concern was survival on both material and moral levels. Making a living, and not turning into an animal doing it, was probably the main concern. Creating underground metal under those circumstances must not have been easy and had to be a labor of love. It certainly wasn’t because one was certain to gain fame and glory.

So here is Scald, with their one and only album, more on why later, delivering what probably is one of the most epic sounding albums in the history of metal, without exaggeration. Take the steadiest of riffs proceeding at just above plodding pace, dress them with numerous guitar vignettes, put on the dreamy shroud, and never waver for almost an hour. If you like Hammerheart era Bathory, you will certainly feel at home with Will of Gods is a Great Power, and if you think early Candlemass is true doom, Will of Gods is a Great Power won’t disappoint. Yet if you are a fan of both classics, to truly grasp Scald you have to imagine the amalgam of the two. Harmonies laying on top of each other, arpeggiated trippy lengthy solos (Night Sky), supermelodic passages (A Tumulus), some of them Russian in feel (opening of In the Open Sea) – Scald paints a different kind of Viking or Northern dweller. Their hero is stoic and stout, yet somehow exalted and unbelievably emotional and vulnerable, without respite, for the whole duration of Will of Gods is a Great Power.

The album would not have been complete, and would never be the masterwork that it is without Maxim “Agyl” Andrianov’s vocals and its imperfect strange production. Agyl’s early attempts at singing (Blacksmith of War from demo part of this re-release) make him sound like more rough and raw, unrefined Valery Kipelov (of classic Soviet –Russian heavy metal band Aria), but on Will of Gods is a Great Power, he sounds a lot more mature, courageous, very Messiah Marcolin-like, attempting and delivering blood curdling high notes on opening and closing of Sepulchral Bonfire, midway through A Tumulus and at the end of In the Open Sea. It is easy to see how Agyl is a perfect frontman for Scald’s style, and why the band seized to exist after Agyl’s tragic death in 1997 in the railroad accident.

The album’s production on one hand could not have been worse, and on the other hand more fitting. Drumming is completely depressed in the mix, especially the bass drum, except maybe on A Tumulus. In fact, demo of Sepulchral Bonfire has better drum sound than the actual album, so bass guitar is forced to pick up the bottom end slack. Guitars, as a result, are pushed to the forefront and made very diffuse, but without any annoying feedback. Couple that with Agyl’s echoing voice, and you have the feeling of a total uninterrupted float, since drumming doesn’t come close to cutting the guitar fabric. Atmosphere immersion thus is immediate and complete.

If melodic doom is something you feel is uneventful and boring music, don’t spend your hard earned nickels on tracing down the expensive original or this more comprehensive re-release. Me, as soon as Will of Gods is a Great Power started playing, from the opening notes of Night Sky to the bells of Ragnaradi Eve to the last dissolution of In the Open Sea, my soul just rested. No splashes, not many real highs but no hollow lows either, the album just transposed my mind somewhere else, away from the daily reality to some non-existent shores, where my brain could just rest for an hour.

Killing Songs :
Night Sky, A Timulus, In the Open Sea
Alex quoted 90 / 100
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