Bal-Sagoth - _Starfire Burning..._
(Cacophonous, 1996)
by: Drew Snow (8 out of 10)
Okay, the name of this album isn't -actually- _Starfire Burning_. It's really _Starfire Burning Over the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule_, but that was just a tad too long to fit in the review header. Now, with that out of the way... The new full length album from Bal Sagoth delves even further into the depths of cheese and flat-out absurdity, but if you can cut through the obscenely long song titles ("In the Raven-Haunted Forests of Darkenhold, Where Shadows Reign and the Hues of Sunlight Never Dance", anyone?) and somewhat pretentious music, what you've got is a quality album with loads of huge, symphonic synth and some unique changes from their last album, _A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria_. First off, the guttural growls have flown out the window (though not entirely), and have been replaced for the most part by a rather unsatisfying spoken approach. In addition, the keyboards are much higher in the mix this time around, and provide a massive, orchestral feel, which, contrary to the new vocals, are -extremely- gratifying, and have a very thick, professional sound. Maybe they should've been even higher in the mix though, to drown out the annoying guitars. Unoriginal and uninspired guitar lines are sprinkled throughout _SB..._, and are overshadowed only by the beautiful clean interludes mercifully thrown in here and there. Don't get me wrong - I like _SBOtIVToUT_ quite a bit, and it's admirable that Bal Sagoth didn't jump on the black metal bandwagon after their somewhat-B.M. debut, there are just a few minor parts which could have been improved. In the end, however, what you have is a fine album with an obvious amount of hard work put into it, which is well-deserving of a recommendation.

(article published 4/2/1997)

8/12/2001 M Noll 3 Bal-Sagoth - Atlantis Ascendant
12/9/1999 P Schwarz 6 Bal-Sagoth - The Power Cosmic
6/7/1998 B Meloon 7 Bal-Sagoth - Battle Magic
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