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Zebulon Kosted - "Dragon’s Blood - Die Nibelungen Part One" (CD)

Zebulon Kosted - "Dragon’s Blood - Die Nibelungen Part One" CD cover image

"Dragon’s Blood - Die Nibelungen Part One" track listing:

1. Die Nibelungen Part One (40:03)

Reviewed by on February 26, 2010

"Why stick with either ambient noise or crushing black metal when both can be worked into the same release?"

A driving force in the Montana underground metal scene, solo black metal act Zebulon Kosted is on a mission to release 100 albums by the end of his lifetime. “Dragon’s Blood - Die Nibelungen Part One,” is one of the latest entries in that quest after the dozens of EPs and full-length albums that have already been released on both cassette and CD. “Underground” is definitely the operative word, as Zebulon Kosted is known for his anti-mainstream sound and actions, having even mixed his blood into the ink used for every copy of one earlier release. The music found throughout the solo musician’s discography has frequently swung back and forth between ambient and black metal, while “Dragon’s Blood” takes a little from both.

The disc consists of one mammoth track just over forty minutes long, with a repeating cycle of intersecting segments. Acoustic guitar gets the album started in an unassuming manner, beginning with slow and haunting sounds and then eventually switching up the tempo into a faster pace. The opening acoustic piece continues alternating in that pattern for several minutes, drawing in the audience and putting them at ease just before the first round of black metal chaos.

There is a sense of crushing sonic heaviness as the initial metal segment works its way in, due in large part to the distortion of the guitars and the heavy drum beat. It’s also helped along by the slight fuzz heard in the background, which gives a somewhat rough and lo-fi feel that actually works in favor of the atmosphere. A new twist emerges that immediately breaks the album away from the majority of the black metal when the bass is clearly audible and frequently used. The bass is almost a separate entity from the rest of the music, becoming a shocking and disorienting tool as it plays along in a much less brutal fashion than the rest of the instruments.

The heavy segment eventually dies away to be replaced by a long, echoing corridor of ambience. The synths don’t attempt to head into melodic or symphonic territory, but rather become a droning, pulsating sound that drags the listener along. Each of the ambient sections attempts to impart a feeling of the sheer size and grandeur of the universe through big trailing sound effects. It’s a very different sound than either of the other two styles and isn’t something often heard in conjunction with metal.

From there the cycle repeats, going back into another round of acoustic playing, although this one is more dark and folksy. The cycle continues to work itself out with additional ambient and black metal portions until the end of the song. As the album sinks in there is a clear progression between the segments as the three differing styles evolve throughout the disc’s run time. One specific point of note is the bass playing on the third “act” of the metal cycle when the bass goes in a gloomier direction, bringing together all the elements of the music in a different and more engaging way.

In many ways “Dragon’s Blood - Die Nibelungen Part One” is like a grand overview of the Zebulon Kosted experience. Why stick with either ambient noise or crushing black metal when both can be worked into the same release? The sounds may not always work perfectly, and with distinct differences in each segment it seems like it should have been broken into individual tracks, but the overall package is something black metal fans should enjoy working through and pondering over.

Highs: The bass can be heard, the acoustic segments work well, and the ambient sections give a big sense of awe and grandeur.

Lows: The album seems like it should have been broken into track instead of left as one song, and the three different styles don't always mesh perfectly.

Bottom line: A massive forty minute track that swings back and forth between acoustic guitar, ambient noise, and crushing black metal.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)