Black Messiah - _The Final Journey_
(AFM Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (8 out of 10)
This album came out a while ago. In fact, Black Messiah's fifth record _The Final Journey_ was released in February. I believe I mentioned it in passing earlier this year. It has to be somewhere. The humorous part about this record is that it has been in constant rotation since receiving it as a promo. I cannot control my laughter right now. By the mid point of the year, under suffocating heat, I believe I have found the year's most enjoyable record.

Folk metal, at least for me, has become a genre which is driven largely by preference and taste. I am sure there are others who will disagree with me and argue clear aesthetic boundaries. For me however, the genre is a mystery, and unlike death, black and doom, fuels itself from pure enjoyment. Black Messiah's journey as a Germanic folk metal band has been dotted with instances of extreme pleasure. Since the early '00s, this band has been a constant staple in the diet of fantasy drenched folk metal. Violins? Yes. Black rasp? Yes. Goofy ass album covers? Fuck yeah.

_The Final Journey_ comes graced in a blue tinted cover depicting someone being overcome by a Viking warrior. The cover alone gives reason enough to smile as Black Messiah's pulp like nature shines through the music. Songs will be grand and mostly dealing with battle. There will be many instances of Nordic mythology. Though there is little room for deviation on what sets up like an amusement park ride, _The Final Journey_ does exactly what it should.

Perhaps the most striking feature, and the one which sets itself apart, is the string work by founder and vocalist Zagan. (Just Zagen. No last name. Just Zagen.) The violin sections strengthen each of the songs, leading to large portions of the tracks as bare ballads. Early in the record, the listener is given a rousing and exciting fiddle rendition of Candlemass' "Into the Unfathomed Tower". Though this cover is a highlight, every inch of _The Final Journey_ is inhabited by competent and focused musicianship. While the cover makes me giggle every time I gaze upon it, the craft in this record is what is most hilarious.

(article published 15/7/2012)


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