Space is fucking big, and there’s an appropriately sizeable array of space-themed metal bands to match. Some artists approach the infinite blackness with a sense of child-like wonder, with bands like Star One and Keldian playing up sci-fi tropes in admiration of the majesty of the star ocean. Others, like Darkspace, channel the cosmos as an unparalleled force of nature; empty, suffocating, and impossibly cold. Battle Dagaroth, a band I had expected to be pure Summoning worship based on their name and “atmospheric black metal” tag, is yet another act intent on aurally replicating the incomprehensible vastness of space. With an aesthetic as grandiose as it is abrasive, this international duo sets out to tackle both of the aforementioned schools of space metal in one fell swoop. In this, the band undoubtedly succeeds; II: Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness is an impressive display of vacuous atmospherics that is, indeed, seemingly endless.

Being a cosmic-minded black metal band, comparisons to Darkspace are perhaps inescapable for Battle Dagorath, but while both bands share much in common, such a singular comparison hardly does the latter band justice. Yes, BD’s sound is mainly comprised of blastbeats, insurmountable walls of low-fi guitars, and cosmic ambiance, but the band utilizes these components in surprisingly dynamic fashion. Frozen Light‘s tracks are seriously long, and while they’re in need of trimming, they take enough unexpected turns to very nearly justify their excessive nature. The twenty-minute “Cast Their Ashes to the North Wind,” for instance, begins life as a fairly standard atmospheric black metal track before receiving an injection of industrial ambiance, later converting into full-on funeral doom at its conclusion. Perhaps even more surprising is “Death Ov Aeons,” a stunning and aggressive piece that mimics early Emperor in its swift drumming and symphonic flavor while sporting an utterly ethereal and mystifying ambient section in its latter half.

In its attempts at mimicking cosmic grandeur, Frozen Light is damn near flawless; I have no qualms with the music itself, and I almost always found something compelling to latch onto throughout its eighty-minute runtime. Ah, but there’s the kicker – Battle Dagorath, for all of its proficiency in atmospherics and incorporation of fringe genres, is an extremely inefficient beast. Frozen Light is a spellbinding experience for its first four tracks, and though it remains compelling past this point, my wonderment thereafter begins to fade to the point where I’m left with an emotional make-up that’s about two-thirds enjoyment and one-third irritation and fatigue [Known as the “Space Madness” in the industry. – Steel]. This isn’t to say that there aren’t gems to be found on the back-end; penultimate track “Supernal Realms” begins to wind things down with a lovely, relatively restrained post-black aesthetic while “Ignus Fatuus” closes the record with an extended take on BD’s hypnotic ambient passages. It’s just a shame that each song couldn’t have been condensed and cut clean in half so that my eyes wouldn’t be glazing over by the time the later cuts arrive.

Performing a cursory once-over of Battle Dagorath‘s back catalog reveals a collection of expectedly lo-fi black metal, and while Frozen Light isn’t exactly a complete one-eighty in its engineering, I find its sound more lush and colorful than the band’s prior material. The mix emphasizes guitars and synths in a balance that effectively contrasts BD’s abrasive and ethereal qualities, with the prevalence of the electronic elements lending the album much more character than the average black metal release. The drums sound thin, though, and the bass is nowhere to be heard, creating a rather chilly soundscape; this is fine in small doses, but as I’ve previously elaborated, Frozen Light is anything but small. Thankfully, the band periodically draws the curtains and allows their compositions to simmer in ambient atmosphere. Unexpectedly grounded field recordings are utilized, with sounds as common as creaking doors and howling winds injecting a refreshing sense of humanity into the otherwise immense proceedings.

Battle Dagorath drags out their motifs to the point where editing down the cosmic leviathan that is Frozen Light would have been an easy task, but I found myself frequently enraptured all the same. Attempts at properly capturing the essence of the cosmos in aural form may prove fruitless endeavors in the face of the unfeeling, unyielding endlessness of space, but BD does a damn admirable job, all the same, filtering its infinite nature through a nuanced and human lens that is equally unsettling and awe-inspiring. This is one record I’ll certainly be returning to come the winter months — in staggered sessions, of course.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Avantgarde Music
Websites: facebook.com/BattleDagorath
Releases Worldwide: October 3rd, 2017

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  • Jack Outjers

    Love the atmosphere but the lo-fi becomes unpleasant after a couple of minutes.

    Shame.

    • Rain upon the impure worship. Thanks for pointing out the lo-fi I was trying to figure out why this seemed familiar.

  • Danny

    “The twenty-minute…” was when I realized this was probably not for me.

  • Chigo

    “Space…is fucking big” should totally be the tagline for the new Star Trek.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      That was the title of Presudint Drumpf’s research paper for freshman astronomy.

      • Here’s Johnny

        ‘Space is bigly’

        • Name’s Dalton

          Space is gunna be yuuuuuuge.

          • Here’s Johnny

            like a yuuugeee ginnaaa

      • manimal

        ‘I just grab it by the pulsar.’

    • Danny

      What about “Space….is spacious”?

      • Name’s Dalton

        Now that’s some spacial awareness.

  • PanzerFistDominatrix

    Twenty minutes songs of mainly blastbeats and insurmountable walls of low-fi guitars? I’m glad space is fucking big so I don’t have to be anywhere near this.

    • Tofu muncher

      Yep.

  • I feel like I’ve seen that unicorn before.

    • Chigo

      Yeah but it’s awesome enough to warrant repeating. Plus it’s nice to see Grymm without the makeup sometimes.

      • Nukenado

        Nope, that’s his stunt double, Grumm.

  • The Unicorn
  • pfk505

    5.0 all the way. I and II are both as good as black metal gets. I hope BSB finds some inspiration to continue the project in the future.

  • Mattias Niklasson

    For good space metal one needs to look no further than Mesarthim, oh then there’s that Gloryhammer album I guess.

    • Mesarthim, Aureole, and Mare Cognitum are my Deep Space 3.

      • Mattias Niklasson

        Gotta check out those other two it sounds like!

        • Definitely nothing as upbeat as “Presence” (I consider that track to be my most kvlt guilty pleasure), especially considering Aureole is the construct of Markov Saroka (Slow, Tchornobog) but then again dark music is kinda my thing. Aureole and Mare Cognitum actually did a split not too long ago, might be your best place to start with them for the sake of convenience.

      • Matt Vogt

        Also Darkspace, Progenie Terrestre Pura, Khonsu…

  • Feytalist

    I need to get me some of this

  • Dudeguy Jones

    I think this is spot on. I liked it. I think the first one was maybe a tad more successful. Its good to have black metal like this in your life. Functions well when working late at night. Drowns out the hum of the computer fan. :P

    Btw, this is so not meant to be dick, but please call me out for such dickishness if need be, but did you mean a different word than “vacuous”? More like the vacuum of space, with all the air sucked out? Or do you more mean that this is not really super deep stuff, even though its enjoyable?

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I waffled back and forth on whether to use that specific wording. It can be used to reference the “empty” quality of something in a literal sense, even though more commonly it’s used in the negative connotation that you mentioned. All I meant to reference was the emptiness of space itself.

      Anyway, glad you like the album! There’s a lot to like here if given the proper chance, although I personally prefer this album to its prequel.

      • Dudeguy Jones

        Word man! Thanks for the clarification! It reads as such anyway. :P

        New Vassafor and Enslaved came out today though, so I’ll be indisposed to other music for a while. Will have to make a note to return to the Dag.