Album Review: Caladan Brood – Echoes of Battle
I am a huge fan of Steven Erikson’s Malazan series of fantasy books; they are the best high fantasy books ever written (I will brook no argument on this). So imagine my delight when I heard of Caladan Brood, a two man black metal band from Salt Lake City, Utah (of all places), whose music is inspired by the series. And when I say inspired, I mean it. Caladan Brood didn’t simply write lyrics vaguely based on their favourite fantasy story as is common in metal, but rather they have taken it a step further by producing a work that captures the atmosphere and mood of the Malazan series, and in so doing have crafted some of the finest black metal I’ve heard in a while.
Brood’s debut album consists of 6 songs all averaging at 11 minutes in length. While this may seem typical for this kind of genre, Brood manage to effortlessly transition between heavy black metal chugging and churning to folk interludes and then into a sort of distant ferocity, all the while utilising keyboards heavily but effectively. Yes, this is black metal about swords and sorcery and heroics, but the lyrics and melancholic tone of the songs suggest a darker outlook on the subject matter. Even when the music reaches epic crescendos, there is still an atmosphere of sadness and loss. In other words, it is a more realistic take on the nature of war and it’s effects on those who live and fight during it. This is deep shit and I respect Brood for crafting something that seems overdone but with an entirely different take when you listen to it.
The vision and the execution is here. Don’t believe me? Check out the song Book of the Fallen, which exemplifies the band at their best. Starting with a mournful chorus and a 16 bit sounding trumpet, the song then blasts into full force with the lyrics recounting the exploits and trials of it’s subjects. Then, over the next 15 minutes, Brood paint a whole landscape that sucks you into another world. It is heavy and violent in places while still maintaining that otherworldly wonder; It’s black metal with a soul.
The album as a whole has it’s moments where it can lose you since it is hypnotic at times, which is a testament to the band’s capabilities. I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad, but it is quite refreshing.
For a debut album, this is excellent stuff. Mortal Sword and Shield Anvil, keep up the good work. I hope to hear more from you in the future but unlike this album, maybe work on crafting tighter and more coherent songs.
Killer tracks: To Walk the Ashes of Dead Empires, A Voice Born of Stone and Dust, Book of the Fallen
As an aside, fantasy readers, pick up the Malazan Series by Steven Erikson. You won’t regret it. And if you do I won’t listen to you or care what you think because regret is for old people and sad housewives. Yeah.