Black Messiah - The First War of the World (AFM Records)

9:23 AM / Posted by metallic sucker and moslem militan /

Black Messiah are an intriguing outfit from (as far as I can ascertain) Germany, who began life four albums ago as a pure black metal band. Now, with the advent of their fourth CD, The First War of the World, they’ve morphed into a pagan/Viking combo, and have produced that most difficult to get right works, the dreaded concept album. Last time I heard one in this particular style it was Turisas’ dismal second offering, The Varangian Way.
OK, so I’m not a big fan of the concept album. And this one in particular seems to have a fairly dodgy provenance. Imagine, if you will, the end of an evening with your mates,
indulging in various (il)licit substances. Someone decides to play an old copy of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. And, spontaneously, you all get the great idea that you could produce a pagan concept album about the struggles at the beginning of the world, and call it The First War of the World. You could even have some Richard Burton style narration between tracks… Hopefully, the idea will be forgotten in the chaos of the next day’s monumental hangover…
Well, obviously I have no idea as to whether this is how it really happened. And Black Messiah do have the capability to pull this one off, if anyone does. The album does, in fact, get off to a brilliant start, with a very quick paced folky couple of tracks, reminiscent of Finntroll or Ensiferum. But it loses a bit of pace mid-stream, with some rather long, more symphonic tracks which seem to go on for ever. And the narrative segments seem to be bizarrely recorded at a different volume to the rest of the album, which leads to you either jumping out of your seat each time one comes on, or having the rest of the album sound as though it’s being performed down the road somewhere.
All this leads to it being a rather difficult one to enjoy listening to, which is a bit of a shame because there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the individual parts of this, it’s just that there’s such a contrast of styles (folk does not sit well with bombastic symphonic metal in my book) and recording levels, that this is just uneven. And it’s way too long, there is no flow to keep you entertained. Or to put it another way, guys: size does matter.
www.black-messiah.de | www.afm-records.de

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