To some this sort of stuff is pagan or Viking Metal. To others it's symphonic and black but when it is as good as this, any degree of micro pigeonholing is academic; futile even. 'The Final Journey' has the camp melodrama and comic book power that is sometimes lacking because of people's over developed sense of self importance.
As with previous albums, Black Messiah (or the Rhur Vikings) has taken a lot of inspiration from the Norse sagas and legends, icing their Metal with folk influences from further east, a mix they have put together quite effectively. The album is also littered with those big long ship born male voice choruses that give the impression that Black Messiah desperately yearns the brother hood of the Viking creed.
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The speed Metal opener 'Windloni' kicks the album off good and proper, setting the pace with its deceptive symphonic intro and the fiddle led 'Der Ring Mit Dem Kreuz' and 'Into The Unfathomed Tower' gallop along with a Slavic jauntiness.
The vocals throughout the album are delivered predominantly as raspy grunts which get a bit relentless after a time. The band has not been afraid to use acoustic and orchestral arrangements, understanding the power of the orchestra when it is let off its leash, a power which a lot of bands fail to exploit or for that matter, comprehend.
It's all good theatrical stuff with half of the album taken up with the epic 'The Naglfar Saga', the first part of which, 'Prologue – The Final Journey', a reflective, if archaic spoken word piece, offers a very welcome respite from the album's Metallic onslaught.
The only problem with 'The Final Journey' is the bloody drummer, Brööh. Black Messiah really should learn to turn him (or her, I dunno man) down, if not off altogether. The album groans under the weight of constant double kick drumming; a blunt tool lacking subtlety that is very often overused for the want of a bit of extra creativity. Rather than adding any kind of sense of urgency, it just irritates and worse, it sounds like yer Granny's bedside clock ticking away whilst smacked off its ticker on speed.
'The Final Journey' is the perfect deterrent to parents whilst you set up that table top invasion of The Golden Realm down at your local gaming emporium. It is a festival of sword waving bravado that will almost certainly be guaranteed inclusion on the collective iPods of the next Norse invasion of England as it waits to disembark its North Sea ferry.
Above all, it sounds fantastic when played very, very loud. Well worth a punt.