Sunday, 12 December 2010

[ALBUM REVIEW] Bahal - Ikelos

1. La Tormenta
2. Il Sentiero
3. Erebo 10:40
4. Il Bardo
5. Il Labirinto
6. La Rosa
7. Danza Del Crepuscolo
8. Tra Le Braccia di Morfeo

Obscure Italian Black Metal band Bahal unleash their latest offering, and with a logo designed by the renowned Christopher Szpajdel, virtuoso of all things spiky and symmetrical, initial reactions are fairly impressive. With a lyrical theme based upon ancient Greece, as evident from the title Ikelos, is a welcomed deviation from the typical satanic theme.

Bahal's sound is best comparable to an amalgamation of Satyricon, Necrophobic and most surprisingly of all Opeth. Frequent transitions between a headstrong assault of blasting and tremolo riffing, brief acoustic interludes and long guitar solos turn the stigma of all black metal being derivative and repetitive on it's head. It's certainly progressive in every sense of the word, but ends up ensnared in the most frequent and frustrating trap of so much progressive music; self-indulgence. Let me get this straight, Bahal is an extremely talented guitarist, the solos on this album are exceptionally good, but they're stretched out to almost ridiculous levels. You've only got to look at Peste Noire for guitar soloing performed tactfully in black metal, whereas with Bahal they're not added to compliment the music, rather merely the guitarist showing what he can do.

With that out of the way, this is actually a very good album though at times does tend to suffer from it's length. Some songs burn out before they even get going, and the opening track is not the strongest and “Erebo” is just flat out boring, but the second half of the album is a significant improvement from the first, most notably last track “Danza Del Crepuscolo”. Bahal's vocals are low and hollow sounding with a heavy swab of reverb, he actually sounds very like Sakis from Rotting Christ. The guitar has a significant shade of Necrophobic off it and has a good prominent tone to it.

Ikelos main faults lie within it's most standout feature, which is the progressive element Bahal is using. Reduce the length of some of the songs and some restraint on the guitar soloing and maybe then they'll have something special worth talking about. As it is, it's a promising and fresh perception on performing black metal, but more often than not just becomes sluggish and self indulgent. It's main weakness is that which makes it unique in the first place. There's a certain balance which needs to be found, but here the scales remain heavily skewed.



Written for Metalcrypt

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