Atlantean Kodex

The White Goddess

Written by: EW on 11/10/2013 10:09:30

Albums like "The White Goddess" - great to listen to, a pain in the arse to review. The 8 songs and 55 minutes of Atlantean Kodex's second album takes the fabled principles of their previous outing ("The Golden Bought") and increases every scale - Markus Becker's cleanly sung vocals are bigger, the lead riffs ring more harmoniously and thrown into the mix are a few quotes from one Winston Churchill providing the album a narrative on the fate and glory of Europe. In essence, the summation of Bathory + Candlemass + Manowar, all at their most epic, which first attracted me to check out the Germans' in 2010 has not changed here.

I can think of few metal bands from recent times who paint with such broad vivid strokes as AK, hence the recommendation of those acts who all peaked in the mid-late 80s. There remain other current acts like labelmates Argus playing Maiden-tinged straight-up heavy metal, no shortage of retro bands like Cauldron and definitely no lack of acts unwittingly parodying heavy metal (Hammerfall and their devotees), but this is something different. For that reason a band like Atlantean Kodex will never be for every metalhead, a pity for this vestige of artistic passion is a joy to behold. Sweeping across the landscape slowly and methodically, each track tells a story of its own, though never sounding drawn out as might be imagined when four of the eight clock in at least 10 minutes, although odd moments can fall foul of the band's willingness to add depth at all costs.

Lyrically the band are just as chasmic, covering the history and mythology of Europe wrapped in intriguing titles like "Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown" and "Heresiarch". But it is the vociferous story-telling prowess within the music which displays AK's technical prowess and love of majesty. The choral rendition of "Sol, Sol Invictus" at the start of that track says something about how the band strive always to ignore the rulebook, before launching into a scything rhythm and fist-pumping tempo. The most epic (there's that word again) qualities of Manowar and "Hammerheart"/"Twilight..."-era Bathory are evident throughout the whole record, whether in the short instrumentals "Bilwis" and "Der Untergang der Stadt Passau", as well as epics like "Enthroned in Clouds and Fire", where the slow calculated opening breaks into a synth-driven vocal backing akin to the great departed Viking metal forefather himself. Small factors such as the squealing lead which introduce the vocals in this track, or the lingering keyboard outro in closer "White Goddess Unveilied", are indicative of the levels of thought that has gone into this record.

Looking for obvious defects within "The White Goddess" is hard - the clear production gives breathing space to all while avoiding the compression issues of most current metal releases. In comparison to the recent Argus' effort and past works of similar mentioned acts however the long songs on offer don't always pack the same punch as more direct efforts. That slow pace, itself a nod to metal's true legacy, is likely to be a factor prohibiting AK's name becoming widespread as the release as a whole is a challenging listen and far from other bands singing about 'heavy metal in the night'. I've grown accustomed to seeing safe bands and records hoovering up the acclaim and top festival billings - a trend I harbour no illusions of ever disappearing - but for those who shirk at the bland offerings of heavy metal's current leading acts then there are alternatives. The boldest and most elegant of those is Atlantean Kodex - a band who revel in Wagnerian pomp forged with metallic regality on a massive scale.

9

Download: Heresiarch, Twelve Stars and an Azure Gown
For The Fans Of: Candlemass, Manowar, (Viking) Bathory, Iced Earth
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 04.10.2013
Cruz Del Sur Music

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