Atlantean Kodex
The Course of Empire


5.0
classic

Review

by PsychicChris USER (315 Reviews)
September 16th, 2019 | 10 replies


Release Date: 09/13/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Empires rise, empires fall...

Six years may have passed in the mortal realm since 2013’s The White Goddess, but very little has changed in the world of Atlantean Kodex. The Bavarians’ third full-length album is right in line with they’ve released thus far, offering the same post-Solstice brand of doomy epic metal. Crunchy, lo-fi guitar gallops are contrasted by tenor vocals, climbing harmonies, and occasional acoustics with individual songs being driven by drawn-out tempos and a wistfully antiquated aesthetic. But while the Atlantean Kodex formula hasn’t changed all that much on The Course of Empire, the band certainly found ways to tweak it.

Past albums utilized a similar mix of sprawling epics and shorter interludes, but they’ve never been incorporated so seamlessly as they are on here. The songs transition between one another quite smoothly overall and an emphasis on vocal cadences allows the interludes to build into the larger numbers while setting up motifs that pop up later. This is demonstrated early on as “The Alpha and the Occident” gives way to “People of the Moon” in a stirring fashion while introducing a melody that reappears on the title track.

There seems to be a more aggressive undercurrent hiding behind the album’s triumphant presentation. While the songs never go into any sort of speed metal bursts, the drums hit considerably harder even when they’re staying at a mid-tempo march. This, in turn, gives the riffs more weight and the vocals more conviction; the latter in particular put in more direct phrasings that are topped off by the occasional rasp. This is best demonstrated on the muscular “He Who Walks Behind the Years” and the title track, but even the comparably accessible “Lion of Chaldea” gets a pleasant energy surge.

One can also detect a darker flavor on a couple of tracks. “Chariots” starts with particularly ominous symphonics before diving into an intense riff set and “A Secret Byzantium” features some of the album’s creepiest guitar fanfare and doomiest tempos. The placement of “The Innermost Light,” the album’s most serene, vocal-oriented song, in between them was a rather interesting move, but it serves to contrast the darkness rather than offset it.

With The Course of Empire, Atlantean Kodex effectively customizes an already astounding formula. The album doesn’t differ too much from The White Goddess or 2010’s The Golden Bough on the surface, but the easygoing song flow makes for a more cohesive listen and the darker, more aggressive elements give it a distinct flavor. This could’ve been a stagnant retread, especially with the years between efforts, but the band clearly used that time to make the best album they possibly could. You know you’ve got a classic on your hands when the worst you can say is that the closing ambiance runs a little too long. Atlantean Kodex is the greatest epic metal band around and The Course of Empire is their magnum opus thus far.

Highlights:
“People of the Moon”
“Lion of Chaldea”
“Chariots”
“A Secret Byzantium”
“He Who Walks Behind the Years”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com



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user ratings (34)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
NoHellsNoHeavens
September 16th 2019


96 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man, I'm not big into "Heavy/Power" metal vocal styles, but the riffs are just... to fucking good on this album. I am a big fan of the guitar tone here.

Digging: Gatecreeper - Deserted

kount
September 16th 2019


1301 Comments


the guitar tone is crazy

InFlamesWeThrash666
September 16th 2019


9231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The intro track is surprisingly not useless and actually hypes up what comes next



Great album

Digging: Fair to Midland - Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

Ebola
September 16th 2019


3660 Comments


this has some great melodic, maiden-esque riffs, but i’m not really feeling it otherwise

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2019


8457 Comments


This is a goosebumps-inducing Manowar/Iron Maiden alloy.

Album has Sign of the Hammer written all over it, while it feels like a concept, need to get my hands on the lyrics asap.

Digging: Dead Shed Jokers - All The Seasons

BallsToTheWall
September 17th 2019


49780 Comments


Rules.

Digging: Pastel Ghost - Ethereality

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2019


10391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is alright. : )

necropig
September 18th 2019


5716 Comments


Rules

Digging: Kostnateni - Hr?za Zvt?z

aydross121
September 25th 2019


47 Comments


is this metal archives-core?

sam1oq
September 30th 2019


101 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is definitely their best album yet. Biggest difference is the songwriting. The songs really take you on epic adventures and every one of them reaches incredible heights imo. I've seen complaints about the singer but I adore his voice. It's sort of an alt rock singing style turned heavy metal and takes the best of both worlds. Consider me a fanboi.



Also to those who say this is nothing more than Maiden/Manowar worship, you don't listen to heavy metal enough. It's similar to people who say bands like Vanden Plas or Circus Maximus are nothing more than Dream Theater clones. Yes those bands are similar, but they all have a very distinct take on the genre. The problem is more that the style is limited in scope to begin with. If Kodex is worship, then almost every heavy/power metal band ever is worship.



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