The Chthonic Chronicles just might be the most adventurous release yet for these British symphonic black metal veterans. Their follow-up to 2001's Atlantis Ascendant is a rich and grandiose culmination to the bands 6 part hexalogy, full of spoken word narration, wild black metal screams, venemous and crunchy guitar work, and plenty of orchestral keyboards. In fact, if you like the symphonic and progressive styled keyboards employed by Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child, and Dragonlord, then this album will be right up your alley.
Lyrically, the album dives right back into the occult fantasy & science fiction themes that they have become known for since their inception in 1993. With narration mixed in among many of the songs, it gives an almost Rhapsody-like feel to the black metal genre, as the aura of fantasy is driven all the more deeply. Bludgeoningly heavy riffs marry with heaps of symphonic keyboards on songs like "The Obsidian Crown Unbound" and "The Hammer Of The Emperor", given even more drama with the urgent spoken word narrative type vocals mixed in with the black metal shrieks. Honestly though, every song here is like an adventurous ride through some warped H.P. Lovecraft meets The Lord of the Rings dream, ultimately giving the listener a sense of enjoyment that works not only on a musical level, but an entertaiment level as well. The Chthonic Chronicles is sure to appeal not only to fans of symphonic black metal, but to lovers of fantasy based music and progressive rock as well. Vocally, these guys really have their shit together, and the guitar, keyboard, and drum work is simply top notch.
If you haven't yet gotten scooped up in the wake of atmospheric and symphonic black metal, then let The Chthonic Chronicles be your virgin experience. Bal-Sagoth have created here a monster of an album, and one that is sure to remembered for years to come.
1. The Sixth Adulation Of His Chthonic Majesty
2. Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night
3. Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar
4. The Obsidian Crown Unbound
5. The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain
6. Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu
7. The Hammer Of The Emperor
8. Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak
9. To Storm The Cyclopean Gates Of Byzantium
10. Arcana Antediluvia
11. Beneath The Crimson Vaults Of Cydonia
12. Return To Hatheg-Kla