The record label, acclaimed German Metal label Nuclear Blast, describes this album as "A masterpiece of Symphonic Orchestral Dark Metal". This album sure is symphonic and orchestral, and I could add to that epic and bombastic, but dark? This album is up-beat, fast and melodic. Sure, there are darker moments, but the atmosphere is more like that of a film or a cartoon, where the hero gets into trouble, but you know everything will be fine.
For those who are not acquainted with the band, Bal Sagoth is fast, melodic metal that relies a lot on symphonic synth melodies, although there are plenty of guitar leads, and as a fundment under it all: Heavy guitar riffs! In terms of image and lyrics, imagine a science fiction universe so well developed it could become a cartoon series. The singer, Byron, is the story teller of the cosmic tales, setting the tone with a spoken storyteller voice, and also acting out the screeching alien voices.
For those who know Bal Sagoth, this album is heavier than the earlier albums, has faster drumming and better sound. It is stylistically fairly similar to older albums, but to me personally, this is the highlight of Bal Sagoth's career. It's fast, catchy and varied and it has amazing melodies!
This album mixes influences from Extreme Metal with Power Metal and Progressive Metal influences.
I would recommend this album to any fan of Bal Sagoth as well as any fan of melodic metal!
There was never a more appropriate time for Bal-Sagoth to release something refreshingly different to save fans from the increasingly stale tendencies of their albums, and 'The Power Cosmic' succeeds brilliantly in interrupting the flow of their narrative saga by injecting some contradictory science fiction themes and even a slight space opera musical style, though not to the extent of something like Ayreon. The move to experienced metal label Nuclear Blast also allowed for an improvement in the production sound and even the artwork, making this a much more satisfying affair than the albums that surround it, even if it has the potential to turn many old-school fans off.
This is still far from the band's past glories, the instruments mainly being used as a backdrop for Byron Roberts' narrative and new tendency towards character drama (it sounds like he adopts the persona of an old man in several songs), and there are sadly no stand-out guitar moments as has been the case on past albums such as 'Starfire Burning,' but this is still authentically Bal-Sagoth. Jonny Maudling's keyboards are excellent, vastly improved from the Disney style of 'Battle Magic' and once again evoking epic atmospheres whether in an ancient, Hyperborean landscape or out in the cosmos, and Dave Mackintosh's drums have sufficient power to propel this music along at breakneck pace without making it overly heavy.
The main problem here is a lack of variation, as once the songs get going, they're pretty much confined to the usual speed metal sound of repetitive riffs washed over with varying vocal styles and symphonic keyboard arrangements, with nice touches like the piano intro to 'Callisto Rising' and lead guitar opening of 'The Scourge of the Fourth Celestial Host' being too short-lived. This is also noticeably shorter than the typical Bal-Sagoth release, coming in at only forty minutes in what seems to have been a deliberate decision not to labour over symphonic interludes, and to cut straight to the chase. While it was never destined to be one of their very best, this odd sci-fi opus came along at the right time to keep fans on their toes, it's just a shame its legacy didn't inspire the subsequent release to try something equally challenging.
1. The Awakening of the Stars
2.The Voyagers Beneath the Mare Imbrium
3.The Empyreal Lexicon
4.Of Carnage and a Gathering of the Wolves
6.The Scourge of the Fourth Celestial Host
7.Behold, the Armies of War Descend Screaming from the Heavens!
8.The Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies of Mu
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Awakening Of The Stars
2 Voyagers Beneath The Mare Imbrium
3 Empyreal Lexicon
4 Of Carnage And A Gathering Of The Wolves
5 Callisto Rising
6 Scrouge Of The Fourth Celestial Host
7 Behold The Armies Of War Descend Screaming From The Heavens
8 Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies Of Mu