Review Summary: A perfect and amazingly epic mix of Viking metal Bathory and Candlemass-style doom.
‘Epic’ has become a bit overused in the world of metal with hundreds of bands often completely wrongly being tagged with the term. It’s a pity really, because often bands that truly do deserve the tag get completely buried, and ‘Will of the Gods is Great Power’ from Russia’s Scald is one album that really does in every way qualify as one of the most ‘epic’ sounding albums ever.
The album features a fantastic mixture of the majestic grand riffs and vivid imagery of Bathory
’s Viking metal style albums such as ’Hammerheart’ which it is clearly hugely influenced by and the crushing slow tempos and down tuned guitars of traditional doom bands like Candlemass
and Solitude Aeturnus
. Every riff is equally powerful, and combined with the Viking-themed lyrics can conjure up images of ancient lands and Viking warriors that most so-called ‘Viking metal’ bands can only dream of doing.
While the music isn’t particularly complex, the instrumentation is superb throughout and the music is structured and composed perfectly with a perfect mix of heavy riffs and melody, staying completely gripping through the long song lengths. The guitar work in particular is amazing. As well as the great riffs there are with plenty of sweeping guitar solos, all of which are well composed and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful and emotional. All of the music is played on just guitar, bass and drums apart from waves and wind sound effects used to enhance the atmosphere and chimes playing a hypnotic melody on ‘Ragnaradi Eve’.
Released first only on tape, it survived only because of the quality of the music to be remastered on CD. The remastering didn’t do much though, because the production is still awful
. While the bass is clear, the guitars are thin and the drums are ridiculously weak. The thing is, while some may be put off, the production in many ways actually helps the music. While taking away some of the power that most doom contains, the production makes the atmosphere sound completely natural and believable, in a way similar to good quality black metal that gets the production ‘right’ like Ulver
’s ‘Bergtatt’. The production can take a while to get used to however, and may not be immediately appealing. The more you get used to it though, the less noticeable it becomes.
The vocals are most affected by the production, which is one of the album’s biggest problems. Maxim "Agyl" Adrianov, who sadly passed away in 1997 leading to the band’s break-up, was clearly an incredible singer, with a range that seemingly effortlessly managed to go from a low growl to an ethereal high pitched wail. Agyl could definitely rival the very best of epic doom metal singers such as Messiah Marcolin, though his singing is unfortunately very restricted by the production. The vocals sound distant and unclear, buried under the instruments. This does help the atmosphere somewhat, but it makes his singing seem a lot less impressive, especially when he sings the higher notes. It also makes it very hard to understand the lyrics which are well-written for a non-Native speaker and fit the atmosphere perfectly.
‘Will of the Gods is Great Power’ is overall an incredible album with the only real flaw being certain parts in the production. Scald borrow from Bathory
, and manage to reach the same quality, arguably even surpassing them. A must for any fan of epic doom metal.