01. The Sixth Adulation Of His Chthoic Majesty 02. Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night 03. Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar 04. The Obsidian Crown Unbound 05. The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain 06. Shackled To The Trilliton Of Kutulu 07. The Hammer Of The Emperor 08. Unfettinger The Hoary Sentinel Of Karnak 09. To Storm The Cyclopean Gates Of Byzantium 10. Arcana Antediluvia 11. Beneath The Crimson Vaules Of Cydonia 12. Return To Hatheg-Kla2006 Candlelight Records
Let me begin by saying that I have never in my entire life laughed out loud more times at a single non-comedy album than I have at Bal-Sagoth's The Chthonic Chronicles. If you're ever looking for a good example to point out to a friend just how silly black metal is, Chthonic Chronicles is the perfect point of reference. This disc is a solid hour of the most theatrically absurd Lovecraftian black metal I've ever heard in my life. The first track, "The Six Adulation Of His Chthonic Majesty," sounds like Glenn Danzig hired Mushroomhead to work with him on Black Aria III; and it just gets better (a.k.a. sillier) from there. Each track contains more than a little bit of ridiculous spoken word that sets the tone quite well for the unique brand of symphonic black metal that Bal-Sagoth have championed for over a decade. It's fast, catchy and even a little fun but I can't believe that anyone could possibly take this seriously. Additionally, while these guys can definitely write a decent song, most of their solos and leads are downright laughable. A perfect example of this in a short period of time lies in the closing solo of "Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night" and the intro lead on "Six Score and Ten Oblations to a Malefic Avatar." I honestly just chuckled a little bit while typing the names of these songs. I suppose it seems like I'm being unfair and that many of these descriptions could describe most black metal bands, but these guys really do take the cake in pretty much every category except that they thankfully don't seem to wear corpsepaint. Conversely, all their seemingly ludicrous qualities do in some ways make them a quintessential black metal band. On this, their sixth (and supposedly final) album, Bal-Sagoth definitely demonstrate why they have amassed such a loyal horde of followers and I'm hard pressed to find many specifics to complain about musically besides those I've already noted and perhaps the Yanni/Smooth Jazz-esque segment of "The Hammer of the Emperor." I just have an incredibly hard time getting into something like this, the way a black metal fan might react to a youth crew hardcore record no doubt. Bottom Line: If you've actually ever used words like "true" and "kvlt" in a serious context, this album is definitely for you. This is the most magnificently over-the-top fantasy-black-battle metal I've ever encountered. Armed with more imagination than most of their contemporaries and a truly evil Casiotone, Bal-Sagoth have crafted one of the most entertaining albums of the year. It probably won't find it's way into my steady rotation but I'll definitely keep it around for as an illustrative tool and an occassional laugh.