This past November we premiered a video for an impressive song called “Serpents of the Black Sun” by the Ukrainian band Balfor, and today we follow that with a premiere stream of the entire album which includes that song: Black Serpent Rising. The album will be released on January 15, 2017, by Drakkar Productions.
Balfor’s line-up includes current and former members of such notable groups as Khors, Raventale, and Hate Forest, and this new full-length follows the band’s last album, Barbaric Blood, by a long six years, with the 2013 EP Heralds of the Fall dividing the wait and significant line-up changes occurring over that interval as well.
I described “Serpents of the Black Sun”, which opens the album, as music that merits the time-worn but fitting adjective “epic”. It’s a fierce, powerful, barbarous, and majestic way to open the album, a track that hits with jolting physicality and a dark, sweeping intensity, creating an atmosphere that’s heroic, yet grim and somber.
What was true of the opening track is, if anything, even more true of the album as a whole. Produced with clarity and strength, the music envelops the listener in something approximating “surround sound”. The songs are unrelentingly dramatic, as if created as the soundtrack for a great saga in which ancient civilizations rose and fell. The riffs and percussive rhythms are bone-shaking in their force, the vocals warlike and flesh-scarring, and the band accent these grand musical tales with heroic and somber clean vocals as well (including female ones).
What really exalts the aura of the music are the array of sweeping melodies, stirring guitar leads, and incandescent soloing. Yet Balfor don’t deliver an unending blast of bombast, which could run the risk of overstaying their welcome. The songs are written in dynamic fashion, and the emotional resonance of the music changes, encompassing not only the fire and fury of war and triumph but also the ache of loss and regret and the chill of flames extinguished. But in all its aspects, the album creates the sense of witnessing larger-than-life events, with conflict, death, and remembrance rendered on a mythic scale.
In genre terms, the music is a blending of melodic black and death metal that will no doubt bring to the minds of listeners an array of noteworthy predecessors from both genres. But that’s not to suggest the music lacks its own spark — it is, to the contrary, so well-written and well-executed that it fires the blood in striking fashion. It’s very easy to get lost in its power and passion, and through the course of its roughly 45 minutes you’ll find no weak links.
Black Serpent Rising was recorded at More Music Studio in Kyiv, Ukraine. It was mixed and mastered at Blacklight Studio by Shaddar (Khors, Ulvegr, etc.). The cover artwork was created by Ukrainian artist Nurgeslag (Rotting Christ). To pre-order the album, go here:
And for further info about Balfor, check these links: