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British blackened power metal troupe Bal-Sagoth returns after a five-year drought with the 12-track THE CHTHONIC CHRONICLES, an epic release that fuses beauty and brutality like no other band on the planet. Heavy and brooding as any corpsepainted act you can name (Cradle of Filth comes to mind the most), yet majestic enough to go toe to toe with bands like Blind Guardian and Luca Turlli, this quintet's uber regal presence and crushing power metal meets fantasy novel fare may seem a bit over the top (as are the band's ridiculously long song titles), but the fact is that there is no one else currently merging these different genres of metal together as well as this juggernaut. Where else do you get flute, galloping guitars, lush orchestrations containing strings and woodwinds, emphatic spoken word vocals, and symphonically charged metal with a touch of evil all in one package? Folks, this one is a steal, and should keep all of the obsessive metal geeks occupied for quite some time. Grab your scythe, Viking helmet, black robes, and action figures and get whisked away into the magical world Bal-Sagoth has created for you and your slightly demonically escapist side.
- Mike SOS