|Folk Metal, Heavy Metal
Death to Music, Napalm Records (2014)
April 23rd, 2010 / September 24th, 2010 (Napalm)
Release length: 40:15
The starting track of Rise of the Heraldic Beasts really doesn’t give this album justice on your first time through. “Hark the Herald” makes for a fun song, but only when you come to understand the band for what it is, which probably won’t happen until the next song, “Calling on All Heraldic Beasts”, and only if you pay attention to the lyrics, and the vocal style utilized. Metal fans who are nerds and grew up on gaming will notice that this band isn’t quite all that serious, as this track has a throwback to the old Genesis game Golden Axe, as much of it deals with the animal made popular in the game called the Cockatrice, which is mentioned throughout the song. If that’s enough, there is also mention of the unicorn during this song as well. The chorus to this alone, if you happen to be unfamiliar with that game, is enough to give you a giggle in just the manner that it’s performed. But, the real turn off for many, at least at first, will be the digital aspects of the song.
To keep with the Templar feel of the music, the band implements trumpets in the background of the music. These trumpets, however, are clearly fake and digital and sound like something that would be composed on a cheap computer program that creates midi files. Atop of the hysterically bad sounding, yet entirely appropriate trumpets, the drumming here is also clearly done using a similar program. The drums never really pick up pace on the album either outside of a few key moments, like on the start of “Seek the Grail”, and are just as fake as the trumpets here, but once again it all works to the album’s advantage, just adding to the hilarity of it. The best way to describe these elements, as well as the lyrics to many of these songs, such as “Bash the Bishop” and “Axe Wielding Nuns” (which should make you alert to not take this release so seriously) is to approach this as if it were done by the comedy troop Monty Python, which may become obvious through the track “Seek the Grail” and other songs throughout that boast some references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and other such films.
While on the topic of “Seek the Grail”, this song features the heaviest the band gets on the album, and really the only time the group’s Black Metal roots show with some great intensity before returning to a post-Black Metal sound that is much lighter and comes off almost royal in a sense. This doesn’t mean it’s the only time the band does anything other then the “royal knight” type of music on the album. “Axe Wielding Nuns” actually has some keyboards throughout that actually brings the song into a very dark atmosphere, especially when the title of the song is being repeated in a female vocal style that is questionable, but the chorus is performed in a simply hysterical way but repeating the title of the song in a cleanly sung manner that clearly was meant to have sarcasm in it, as well as having what sounds like a bike horn going off at random times in the background throughout the song against the trumpets. The start of “Jaldaboath” also features a little dark atmosphere to the start due to the knights at war sound clip utilized, and the music itself isn’t too royal sounding, but when it kicks in the dark feeling is lost and clearly becomes a little more fun, but also utilizes traditional keyboards that would be associated with the proper time period, but also clearly come off as a midi file like the trumpets. This is also based on the theme song to a Birtish children’s show called Rentaghost.
The only complaint to be had about this release is that things seem different at time goes on. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s clear that as time went on for the band, their musical ideals changed somewhat. Five of the songs on this release come from the band’s Hark the Herald EP (“Bring Me the Head of Metaton”, “Seek the Grail”, Jacques de Molay”, “Hark the Herald” and “Da Vinci’s Code”). These tracks, outside of “Hark the Herald”, are all a little more serious then the rest, typically playing more into the Black Metal then the post-Black Metal royal sound that makes this release fun. Unfortunately, because of this there is clearly a huge gap between the band’s older material, and the newer material composed for this release, and it’s often just a sudden jerk to the listener going in and out of these musical phases that it often poses a problem with the flow of the album. Had the more serious tracks and the fun songs been kept seperate, and a little more time spent on the order of the tracks to this release, there could have been a nice transition between the fun songs from the start of the album, and a more serious closing to the release if the more Black Metal/Folk sounding tracks been kept solely to the end of the release. While, for the most part, that is what is done here, there are still some in the earlier tracks that have less of a fun atmosphere that could have been utilized to transition between the two, instead of simply being thrown from one to another with the track “Bring Me the Head of Metatron”. Sadly, by the time you hit “Da Vinci’s Code”, there essentially is no flow to the album anymore, and the track leaves the listener pretty much stranded with the most serious song closing the album out, but it just greatly conflicts with the album all together, actually boasting some keyboards that sound completely Egyptian, as well as even the chant-like vocals that adorn the song.
Overall, Rise of the Heraldic Beasts is simply a fun album that cannot be taken seriously. Granted there are some serious moments, like “Bring Me the Head of Metatron” and “Jacque De Molay”, but for the most part the album sticks to a rather royal atmosphere with corny trumpets, drums, and sometimes keyboards, that all work together to create an addicting album that will more then likely take some time to grow on the listener. If you need a break from hearing of raw sounding Black Metal that doesn’t offer too much in the line of unique music, then this somewhat Avante Garde post-Black Metal sounding release is something that simply needs to be experienced, even if your views on comedy in metal are negative since much of the lyrics, while often comical, as well as the music, are often still depicting the actions of Knights and such in that time period in a manner most befitting.
01. Hark the Herald – 3:31
02. Calling on All Heraldic Beasts – 4:35
03. Bash the Bishop – 4:24
04. Seek the Grail – 4:21
05. Axe Wielding Nuns – 4:09
06. Jaldaboath – 4:11
07. Bring me the Head of Metatron – 4:31
08. Jacque De Molay – 3:58
09. March to Cavalry – 2:36
10. Da Vinci’s Code – 4:07
|Initial Pressing Score: 8/10