Band: Caladan Brood
Album: Echoes of Battle
In the world of music and movies, the creators very rarely utilize their full creative potential. The ability to create a magnificent world that fascinates people and draws them is beginning to fade in both industries. However, Caladan Brood’s debut 2013 release, “Echoes of Battle,” is an album that captured my imagination and opened up a whole new creative world of music to me.
In the past, I never was an enthusiastic atmospheric black metal fan, and I am just becoming more acquainted with the genre. After watching a friend do a video review on Caladan Brood, I started listening to some of the tracks off of the album. I was amazed to hear such consideration for composition, along with the ability to create strong musical themes. The band incorporated flutes and other medieval folk instruments while maintaining a heavy black metal edge. Compared to other atmospheric black metals bands I have heard, the guitar riffs conveyed a sense of raw human emotion. Each chord followed along to the main rhythm and built this enormous sounding instrumental structure. Vocally, the band uses a variety of styles that range from a traditional black metal growl to narrate the main verses, and clear chanting parts during the choruses.
A point to be made about this group’s creative nature is that there are only two guys in the band. Besides some guest guitar parts on a couple tracks, Shield Anvil and Mortal Sword are the ones behind Caladan Brood’s overall sound. “Echoes of Battle,” is probably one of the most well produced albums that I have heard in a long time, and the production definitely helps in presenting the album’s lyrical themes. All the lyrical content, and even the bands name, comes from a book series written by Steven Erikson. Although Caladan Brood took influence from an outside source for the album’s lyrical themes, (most musicians and Hollywood directors do too), the band presented the material in a very engaging fashion, and provided a refreshing interpretation that stands out.
Another influence, this time musically, that can be heard on the album is from the atmospheric black metal band Summoning. Similar to Caladan Brood’s approach lyrically, Summoning takes influence from Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings series. Musically both bands work extremely hard to build gigantic musical landscapes that will allow their themes to be narrated in a fascinating and almost cinematic manner. Compared to Summoning, Caladan Brood’s whole ability to create vivid musical landscapes jumps out more, and never becomes monotonous. Don’t get me wrong there are some amazing Summoning albums, but the way Caladan Brood’s style is captured on, “Echoes of Battle,” is constantly exciting and engaging.
The opening song, “City of Azure Fire,” is a great introduction to Caladan Brood’s creative musical abilities. This song is a perfect example of how to narrate and use different typos to allow a songs theme to freely flow. The song starts out with this fascination about a great city and the main guitar riff sets forth the road until the end of the song. Towards the end of the song, the overall tone becomes very triumphant as though I am standing in front of the magnificent city. Song two, “Echoes of Battle,” continues the epic journey like composition approach that can be heard on the first track. The guys cleverly arrange the guitar and drum parts to match the song’s constant changing sound.
My favorite song on this album, “Wild Autumn Wind,” is the first piece of music that I heard from Caladan Brood, and it is my favorite track off of this album. The dark melodic chord progressions used capture my imagination as the words take ahold of my attention. I found the guitar and piano riffs to match up harmoniously, and the singer’s haunting voice glides over the pleasant musical atmosphere. Another high point during the song is the skillfully executed guitar solo which adds a splendid emotional touch.
“To Walk the Ashes of Dead Empires,” “A Voice Born of Stone and Dust,” and “Book of the Fallen,” are three strong songs that finish off the second half of the album. Each song is very distinct in style, mood, sound and lyrical presentation. “Book of the Fallen,” opens with a loud echoing chanting part that is so loud, the thunderous words could reach up to the top of a high snowy mountain. After going through a variety of amazing riff, drum and keyboard changes, the band finishes just like how they started by ending with some a cappella chanting.
When this album finished, I felt moved and eager to hear more long atmospheric black metal epic pieces of music. Usually when people walk out after seeing a good movie, they are still thinking about the film a day later. Well, I guess Hollywood has not been doing there job because Caladan Brood’s, “Echoes of Battle,” is by far the most captivating form of art I have experience in the last couple years. Both musicians demonstrated tremendous work ethic, and their consideration to every sound and composition is a rare quality amongst most other current musicians. I can’t wait until these two get back in the studio for the follow up to “Echoes of Battle,” because I am confident after hearing this album that they will deliver another impressive epic release. Even if you do not know, or really like atmospheric Black Metal, this album’s vibrant overall musical sound makes “Echoes of Battle” a must listen.