Review Summary: The greater sum of its influences and everything more then that.
Everything about Macabre Omen's "Gods of War-At War" screams Bathory in the best way possible. The war cries laden with despair, the echoing, dissonant riffs, the looming atmosphere invoked from sounds of clashing steel and daunting fear, really just everything that made albums like "Blood Fire Death" and "Under the Signs of the Black Mark" so damn good in the first place. In spite of all this, somehow the album retains a uniqueness that prevents it from sounding like a true ripoff. Perhaps the howling passages of clean vocals, or the shifts from the perfect, yet ugly death growls to almost Silencer-esque shrieks. Mind you, I mean this in a good manner (Silencer can be rather dividing). Instead of dominating the record and coming across as whiny and ear-aching, they are used to emphasize the already melancholy and lugubrious atmosphere set by the albums murky yet coherent production.
This leads into my next statement. As much bereavement as this album holds, it hardly depresses the mood of the listener. Daunting and dark as it may be, it retains so much vitality and, dare I say, vibrancy. This can be attributed to the vibrant rapid fire drumming and the sparingly used, yet nonetheless epic and glorious war chants. The drums especially are pummeling, thundering there way across plains of blazing fields engrossed with the blood of the slain. Pair this alongside some really chaotic, near maddening guitar work, and you have an epic yet melancholy concoction which can be described as almost slightly surreal. Take, for example, the title track "Gods of War". The drumming is frenetic and only grows more so as the guitar winds its way to an ever growing frenzy, which then transitions into a much slower section almost seamlessly.
Another terrific aspect of this album-the dynamics. It's neither upheld by ridiculous speed driven tremolos and blast beats nor gratingly slow and lifeless chords drawn out for fifteen seconds. Their is no fake image of "atmosphere" or "aggression". Rather, it works more like the birth and death of a star. Starting from quaint origins, then swelling ever more quickly into something of magnificent proportions, containing within itself so much power that it has no choice but to end with a massive conflagration, then allowing space to return to the calm stillness it was before. The music is engorged with interludes of peaceful quiet, which is then released in burst of rage and power.
It's worth mentioning even with all these traits, the album always remains harmonious. It's simultaneously invigorating and beautiful, especially off tracks like "Man of 3000 Voices" and the final two tracks "Alexandros-Ode A" and "Alexandros-Ode B". The first of these which probably has the best instrumentals off the whole album, with tribal sounding drums blasting relentless while melodious riffs transition into a series of a series of badass energetic tremolos. It especially provides an interesting contrast with songs like "Hellenes Do Not Fight Like Heroes, Heroes Fight Like Hellenes" because of the tortured wails that open up the track. Parts like this are strange and tend to consternate and bewilder, and yet they do not take away from the grandness of the album. Rather they add another layer that simply provides a stark contrast with the more uplifting and beautiful parts of this album.
It's almost like you could listen to this album a dozen times and not truly unfold every layer it has to offer. Every second each note, each scream uttered forth, every pounding of the drum, is working towards a bigger picture. This album is an amalgamation of every emotion possible, from triumph to immense sadness to unfathomable rage and everything in between. They take their influences of bands like Bathory and finish building upon the foundation in which they started. It may sound like a big statement, but in some ways this band has outdone their influences. They perfect the image of what they wish to create, which is a congregation of every emotion invoked from war to make an album that revels in chaos and beauty. One could say this is the indirect successor to "Blood Fire Death", but perhaps this is something much more then that.