ATLANTEAN KODEX - The Course Of Empire
November 12, 2019, a month ago
First album in six years, but then there's nothing quite like these Germans: is it traditional, folk, prog or doom metal? Forget the silly categorizations. In truth, their epic constructions (both sonically, as well as in terms of length, regularly exceeding eight minutes, and more) encompass all of the above, and then some. The only relevant “comparison” (if you will) is While Heaven Wept, mixed with the grandiose Virgin Steele. Sort of... While the opening “The Alpha And The Occident” is comprised of spoken voiceovers, over the (ahem) course of the nine remaining compositions, Markus Becker's smooth, oft double-tracked voice often goes with little or no musical accompaniment. Guitars greet “Lion Of Chaldea”, before it settles into a slowed, gritty tempo, Becker soaring above the fray, without peeling paint from the walls.
If you've not understood, this is not a simple, throw-away effort, with a bunch of individual songs. No, this is a full album listening experience. “Chariots” fades out with more voiceovers and hushed vocals atop acoustic guitar as it segues into haunting keyboards meets Viking bellowing over military cadence drumming, for “The Innermost Light”. The massive (10:46) titular piece is as close to traditional metal sensibilities as it gets. All the tracks are subtitled a second moniker, elaborating on the original and many of them have to do with ancient Middle Eastern cultures (Mesopotamian/Sumerian /Byzantine, all currently in or near Iran) and Biblical references (Adonai, Kharsag. Perhaps it's the clash of religions (The Crusades) that's depicted as a desert mirage (an armored, horseback battalion), on the album artwork. However, the concluding “Die Welt Von Gestern (Abendland)” translates to World Of Yesterday (Europe, i.e. Christendom), so you get the feeling there's a big message floating across the complex expanse, especially given the world today.
“Children of Europe, Daughters of Eden, defiant, unbroken and free
Raise proudly the torch of Enlightenment’s triumph
The great wars are yet to come”
An intimate/erudite experience, recommended for the most discriminating dispositions.