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Bal-Sagoth is today well known for their epic symphonic Metal. While the band's debut album still fits this description, it is a very different album from all the later Bal-Sagoth albums.
"A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is by far the most sinister Bal-Sagoth album. The guitars, that form the backbone of the music, are rooted in fairly straight forward death metal stylings, with the occasional hint of doom, and even a hint of the typical Bal Sagoth lead guitar melody lines. There are plenty of keyboards, but unlike later Bal-Sagoth albums, the keyboards are not trying to emulate a symphonic orchestra. Plenty of synthetic string sounds are used, but more as a means to create atmosphere through dissonant chord pads than to create an intricate symphony.
In terms of vocal performance, the album does feature the well known black metal inspired screech that we know from the Bal-Sagoth of today, as well as the deep spoken voice. There are even some traditional deep, guttural death metal vocals on here!
"A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria" is a distinct and enjoyable album, althought not at all as accomplished as later albums. The album gets points for being original and different, although it can't hold my interest throughout the entire album. This is only for hardcore fans or the especially interested I think.
Edit: Do note that the cover art presented from Dooyoo for this album us incorrect. Consult Google for the real cover art.
(Okay, don't ask me why the image for this product is completely wrong).
Bal-Sagoth's debut is a much darker and heavier affair than anything the Yorkshiremen would release later, rooted in a more traditional black/death metal style with elements of doom minimalism and introducing traits that would later become the band's stereotype, particularly Byron Roberts' epic, Lovecraftian narratives. The emphasis is still almost entirely on the lyrics here, the lyric booklet that comes with the album being a tome of comparable density to War and Peace even when printed in ludicrously small type, but extreme metal fans will likely find more to appreciate in the music here than in the subsequent, more consciously epic and symphonic works, where Jonny Maudling's keyboards became a main player rather than the background atmosphere they're used for here.
Most of these songs follow a fairly repetitive style, led by fast and furious blackened death metal with the occasional slower minute or two in the centre, and only a couple of songs - specifically, those that clock in at ten minutes - go all-out on the narrative front with Roberts' impressively low-tone narration. Those songs, the title track and the finale (if I start reproducing the elaborate track names up here, this will become an incredibly long review), are more rooted in doom metal, and although the narrative aspect is intriguing, the band clearly hasn't quite found its niche sound on this first album, and is admittedly more impressive when confined to more traditional death metal styles.
1. Hatheg Kla
2. Dreaming of Atlantean Spires
3. Spellcraft & Moonfire (Beyond the Citadel of Frost)
4. A Black Moon Broods over Lemuria
5. Enthroned in the Temple of the Serpent Kings
6. Shadows 'Neath the Black Pyramid
8. The Ravening
9. Into the Silent Chambers of the Sapphirean Throne (Sagas from the Antediluvian Scrolls)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hatheg Kla
2 Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires
3 Spellcraft And Moonfire (Beyond The Citadel Of Frost)
4 Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria
5 Enthroned In The Temple Of The Serpent Kings
6 Shadows 'neath The Black Pyramid
7 Witch Storm
9 Into The Silent Chambers Of The Sapphirean Throne (Sagas From The Antediluvian Scrolls)
10 Valley Of Silent Paths