Artist:  Black Messiah
   Title: The Final Journey
   Label: AFM Records

This Viking/pagan metal band from Germany is back with another explosive album that earns them their place on the German pagan scene. Black Messiah, formed in 1992, have spent the last 20 years perfecting and performing their own brand of metal – from black metal and now into Viking metal, propelled primarily by Zagan, who moved the band from one genre to another effortlessly. This is the follow-up to their 2009 epic 'First War of the World' and is set to be another hit.

The album is split into two sections. The first, with six songs is the first part of the album, with the second set of four songs, each subtitled 'The Naglfar Saga', allow for their ability to produce a concept album within a studio album.  In effect, this is two albums in one, and I will review this as such.

In the first half, the vocals are done primarily in German, and the guttural, harsh consonants fit well against the fast, skilful guitar work and the heavy, ever present drum rhythm. The songs sound like battle songs in a way in that they have their own distinctive style and hooks, and if you could speak/understand German they would stick, and they do even without knowing German. The guitars take their irrepressible riffs and mix it with speed and style and this only enhances the Viking sound. The tracks do have a form of different strings in that Zagan plays the violin on some of the tracks, and this shows the folk side of the music coming to the fore. This mix of folk elements, violin and German vocals creates a truly different sound that you won’t hear anywhere else. They’re harder than Turisas and obviously take their place in the pagan metal scene seriously.

The songs alternate between folk metal and harder, speedier songs. This change is constant, and it makes a difference. Since each song is talking about something different/some different part of Viking/folk/pagan arena, then the change is a necessary and it actually enhances the album as you never know what you’re going to get.

The second half of the album, 'The Naglfar Saga', is a different kettle of fish. It is a short story over four tracks. The first song is primarily an introduction, with spoken voice (in English) over a soft and slow instrumental that includes the violin. This change of pace is the perfect way to set up for the last half of the album. The second song brings to the fore of the epic, with the guitars playing faster and harder, but this is also suited to the lower octave vocals, which bring their own emotion to the songs. The third again takes a different way, with faster, not so hard guitar work and an unbeatable rhythm laid down by the drummer and by the guitarists. It’s also slightly higher than the second track, and this difference is a necessary to show the next part of the story. The fourth song returns to the folk/slow melodic music from the first album, and again signifies a change. The shifts within the second half of the album don’t apply to the vocals, which are slow and soft throughout, even with a guttural screech coming in at times.

This split album manages to create a different atmosphere than any other Viking/pagan metal album, taking you on a journey through the mind of the band as well as showing what they can do.

Review by: Kerry H

Tracklisting:

1. Windloni
2. Der Ring mit dem Kreutz
3. To Become A Man
4. Into The Unfathomed Tower (A Tribute to Candlemass)
5. Feld Der Ehre
6. Lindisfarne
7. The Naglfar Saga: Prologue - The Final Journey
8. The Naglfar Saga : Mother Hel
9. The Naglfar Saga: On Board
10. The Naglfar Saga: Sailing Into Eternity

                   

 

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