My last experience of Battle Dagorath was their debut album, which I gave a glowing review to back in the ‘ye olde Metal Team UK’ days. I was drawn in by their epic, Emperor-like soundscapes, and their unabashed love of all things Tolkien. Blasting and melodious in equal measures, their music is still great, but on this – their third album – they seem to have fully moved away from their earlier Lord of the Rings inspired realms, and are looking much more to the stars for inspiration. Featuring a multi-national cast of musicians (well, two Americans, and a German in Christoph Ziegler a.k.a Vinterriket), this is definitely one of the most ambitious releases I’ve heard in the black metal realms since my favourite album of 2012 – Elysian Blaze’s “Blood Geometry”
“Cursed Storm of Ages” is simply monstrous in its intent. Similarly to “Blood Geometry”, the album is a double album which features no less than 6 of its tracks running well over the ten minute mark. This is not an album to be thrown on for a quick blast while getting ready to go down the pub, or for those lacking any sort of attention span or strong constitution for that matter. No, this requires the time and patience to soak up every little nuance of the Emperor, Vinterriket & Summoning inspired black metal that flows so effortlessly from it. It’s taken me a good few spins to fully get to grips with the album, but now it has had its time pummelling my ear drums, I can honestly say this is easily one of my favourite black metal albums thus far this year. Simply put; Battle Dagorath’s echoing snarls sound as if they’re emanating from some far reaching abyss, echoing through cavernous alien landscapes left untouched by living creature for time immemorial. The album is infested with the archaic impenetrable blackness that makes up deep space, yet it pulses with cosmic rays, comet dust and dark matter.
Vinterriket’s fingerprints are clearly all over this work, with the song arrangements all aimed at slow building melodies and huge structures sucking the listener in with its enormous soundscape, pelting your senses with sections of scathing black metal before slowly allowing pockets of atmosphere to seep in between the twisted and enrapturing guitar led rage. As mentioned previously, lyrically the band have taken a step away from their Nazgûl inspired reveries of old, now looking into the deeper universe, cosmology and the mysterious unknown of exactly what is out there for inspiration – it doesn’t get much colder than deep space now, does it? It makes all those previous odes to frosty Troll inhabited mountains seem like a holiday in Bermuda in comparison to this. Thus, this album is pretty damn frozen as you’d imagine, from the frost blasting guitar tone to the gusts of icy synth work which flow throughout – and I just can’t get enough of it at the moment.
Given the time to marinade on your mind, this album has a strangely hypnotic effect to it. So much effort has gone into the structuring that the 100+ minutes of run time just flies by when listened to in one hit. I preferred the ‘headphones at night’ approach to listening to the album in its entirely, cutting off all other senses and just kicking back and allowing it your undivided attention – I highly recommend you do the same when trying to tackle such a musical beast, because the music on offer not only deserves it, it demands it.
(9/10 Lars Christiansen)