For the first time this winter its actually snowing and rather steadily outside my living room window, therefore this seemed like the appropriate time to analyze the latest Battle Dagorath release, 'Ancient Wraith.'
Although it slipped by most listeners ears, the bands debut, 'Eternal Throne' was a monumental release of enduring, epic, cold and incredibly atmospheric black metal. This follow-up is in a similar style, though some differences are there, yet it seems like the basic framework is still present. Other than the bands mastermind, Black Sorcerer Battle (guitars, bass and vocals) the remainder of the band has changed with Shadowvoid handling drums and additional guitars, Christoph of Vinterriket/Atomtrakt fame providing keyboard work as well as Hexannacht providing vocals on one song.
The album opens with a three minute ambient song titled, 'Spirits of Winter Darkness,' which along the way has the sounds of whipping winds in the background and it perfectly sets the mood for the listener as its three minute duration passes. 'Empire Of Imperial Shadows' then blasts forward and the quickly noticeable characteristic of Battle Dagorath's music is dark but gorgeous and haunting melodies that lurk within this song, although you'll also take notice of the lesser melodic guitars that are generally just a raw buzzing ambiance that goes along with the chaotic music, although some cleaner guitar parts are heard as well as some acoustic portions too. The drums mostly rely on blasting and the music in general seems far more raging, but not always as some calmer moments can be found, but in the end it all helps to create the harsh unforgiving winter sound the band strives for and Battle Dagorath is incredible at it.
I'll admit I don't think the next two songs, 'Where Darkness & Frost Prevails' & 'Spellbound Requiem Of The Winter Night' differ that much in style from the former, but are still highly atmospheric in their raging winter black metal glory, but by the time the listener arrives on, 'Kingdom Of Black Abyss' the album reaches its peak. Considerably the most enormous song the album, it opens with a familiar Vinterriket synth passage while building up gradually over the next two minutes or so until all hell is unleashed upon the listener. Around the five and half minute mark things calm down once again and eventually an utterly spine tingling slow riff enters alongside a magnificent and despondent synth melody that continues on for the remaining minutes of this fourteen minute beast. The sixth and final song, 'Ancient Spectre Of Oblivion' is a nearly twenty minute experimental song, which is a part ambient and noise composition, which is fantastic if you dig that sort of thing, but most don't. Fortunately, I dig.
As a whole I am quite pleased with, 'Ancient Wraith' and the development and changes the band has made between its two releases. I'm sort of undecided which release I enjoy more, but it really doesn't matter since both are quite good. I should also mention that Battle Dagorath is an American band and for those that would say the American black metal scene is dead, awful or just plain nonexistent should probably listen to this and be proved fucking wrong!