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Macabre Omen - "Gods Of War - At War" (CD)

Macabre Omen - "Gods Of War - At War" CD cover image

"Gods Of War - At War" track listing:

1. I See, the Sea!
2. Gods of War - At War
3. Man of 300 Voices
4. Hellenes Do Not Fight like Heroes, Heroes Fight like Hellenes
5. From Son to Father
6. Rhodian Pride, Lindian Might
7. Alexandros - Ode A'
8. Alexandros - Ode B'

Reviewed by on April 6, 2015

"[Macabre Omen] keeps the music diverse in its array of instruments that include acoustic and electric guitars and bass, recorder, mouth harp, synths, tambourine, gongs, and a plethora of percussion."

Macabre Omen’s story started in 1994. However, these pagan black metallers from Greece did not release their first full length, “The Ancient Returns,” until 2005. Their discography before this consisted of demos and splits. It took ten years but the band has released its sophomore album “Gods of War-At War.” Said album is grandiose in approach and contains layers of instrumentation and enchanting atmosphere. The band keeps the music diverse too in its array of instruments that include acoustic and electric guitars and bass, recorder, mouth harp, synths, tambourine, gongs, and a plethora of percussion.

Macabre Omen consists of two members - Alexandros (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard, mouth harp) and T.J.F. Vallely playing all drums and percussion. Alexandros assumes various vocal styles from a tortured shriek to a deep growl and spoken narrations. His most effective voice, though, appears in choirs. These choirs really bring home the pagan feel in a later-era Bathory sort of way. His growls are least effective mostly because they are hidden so deep within the mix that that none of his words are distinguishable and these vocals become merely another instrument. The mix doesn’t do Alexandros’ vocals any justice and are the major drawback of the album.

The album opens to the sound of a ship on water with “I See, The Sea.” Waves propel the vessel forward as its wooden bottom creaks. There is a big chorus line that initiates the music and then some guitar tricks. Here we get our first listen of Alexandros' tortured black metal vocal style. This track also contains fluid harmonies that bring to mind Amorphis. The Greeks have a knack for melody. The following song, the title track, is of a faster tempo, especially in the blasting drums. “Hellenes Do Not Fight like Heroes, Heroes Fight like Hellenes” and “Rhodian Pride, Lindian Might” are also propelled forth by blasting drums and icy guitar licks.

“Man of 300 Voices” is a much slower song with woodsy textures. This track contains acoustic guitar, various forms of percussion, and a recorder. “Alexandros-Ode A’” and “Alexandros-Ode B’” both start with acoustic guitar and both feature those big chorus lines. There is even what sounds like a kettle drum on part A. These two tracks also help them further realize their pagan stance.

Besides the vocals being too low in the mix, “Gods Of War-At War” is a solid work of epic black metal. It’s shimmering chorus lines brings back the immortal works of Quorthon of Bathory. The varied instrumentation gives the album a strong tribal feel, while blasting drums and sustained guitar notes help instill the warring culture of the Ancient Greeks that this band so reveres. Maybe the band’s two members will step away from their other bands long enough to record an album before another ten years passes.

Highs: Enchanting atmosphere and varied instrumentation.

Lows: The vocals, especially the death metal vocals, are too low in the mix.

Bottom line: Fans of grandiose, epic black metal can't go wrong with this release.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)