...The Soil Bleeds Black - _March of the Infidels_
(Draenor Productions, 1997)
by: Henry Akeley (7 out of 10)
This is medieval-inspired, synthesizer-based folk-ambient constructed with musical flair and good attention to the ambient details. Parts of it might come across as slightly corny at first, but repeated listens reveal lots of interesting goings-on - all in all, a very successful conjuration of some quite intriguing atmospheres. Synth is the focal instrument, employed to perform medieval-sounding themes, fanfares, melodies, and so on, usually to the accompaniment of mildly militant percussion, plus sampled dialogue and sound effects (including some cool-sounding medieval battles, as in the excellent "We Wave Our Flags in Triumph"). Imagine a more sprightly version of Summoning's music - minus the guitars and plus a bit of Mortiis feel, mixed with all manner of ambient elements. Vocals are featured on some tracks, and while they don't do anything to hinder enjoyment of the material, there is definite room for improvement in this area. (The singing on "Our Flames Have Never Died" works well, though.) Also, some of the bits of sampled dialogue have a kind of cheesy, made-for-TV-movie feel to them. Still, on the whole, I find this surprisingly engaging and enjoyable. Suggested listening for the medievally-inclined.

(article published 12/8/1997)

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