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Atlantean Kodex – The Golden Bough: Review

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

On October 4, the newcomers to German metal, Atlantean Kodex, released their debut full-length album, through Cruz Del Sur, named The Golden Bough. Many have labeled it “epic metal” or “doom metal,” but the truth is it does not attach itself well to sub-genres of metal. And yes, this is a wonderful thing, albeit there are some not-so-wonderful things about this album.

The Music (rating: B)

  1. Fountain of Nepenthe
  2. Pilgrim
  3. The White Goddess
  4. Temple of Katholic Magick
  5. Disciples of the Iron Crown
  6. Vesperal Hymn
  7. The Atlantean Kodex
  8. A Prophet in the Forest
  9. The Golden Bough

Much of The Golden Bough is mid-paced heavy metal, though there are sections that draw from sub-genres such as power metal and traditional doom metal. Yes, it has an epic feel, but to say that it is an “epic metal” album would be unjust due to the fact that it is a demeaning way to classify it within metal, as well as the fact that it is not the standout characteristic of the album. The clean vocals and medium tempo, as well as the inclusion of lengthy, drawn-out song sections, give it a very powerful feel. But there are tons of power/symphonic/progressive/etc. metal that is much more cathartic than this record. This is not said to point faults (it is not one), but to explain my reasoning behind why I choose to avoid the word “epic” in describing its sub-categorization of metal.

The fact that there is difficulty tagging a genre onto this release is attributed to its stylistic uniqueness. Whereas much of metal feels compelled to embrace a faster tempo and a heavier sound, Atlantean Kodex is not pinned to these traits. Most of the album is of mid-tempo (as rigorously stated earlier), but they manage to capture a wide range of tempos. There are areas of fast-riffing as well as slower, down-paced sections. Also, there are a handful of pleasant acoustic guitar sections mixed in with the hard-hitting metal. The deep variety is mixed well together, thus giving a fluent, valuable album in terms of style.

But despite the distinctiveness of the album, the execution seemed to anchor it from reaching the potential it had. Whether it be musically or instrumentally, there is not much to be astounded by. There are scattered sections throughout the album which I quite enjoyed, but for much of it I felt the passages were overdrawn past what was warranted by their musical or instrumental value. What is meant by this is many times in The Golden Bough, the music would remain in a song section for a long duration, but there would be little of interest for the listener to appreciate. Though this is a key characteristic towards the music’s identity, its value is compromised by the lack of substance in what is actually being drawn out. This is a recurring issue throughout the album, but there are moments where this is exquisitely executed.

The overall style and uncompromising approach of The Golden Bough are key areas of praise. Unfortunately, the instrumental performance and musical craftsmanship are slightly short-ended. The potential produced by the band’s attitude towards music is grand, but unreached as a consequence of the inability to create an embraceable entity in its music (for the most part). With more instrumental capabilities and musical creativity, Atlantean Kodex may possibly become a powerful force in the metal scene. But with The Golden Bough, what the band needs is another chance.

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