Reviewed by Neithan on Sunday 26 March 2006. Shadowlord is a band from Nijmegen in the Netherlands. They are heavily inspired by Dutch history and literature: a concept they continue to carry out on their new album “Batavorum”. The title is taken from ‘Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum', a late Roman name for this city. Shadowlord is still to be categorized in the league of dark metal: they have become less bombastic than on “Scourge of Heaven”, and the development is this time more in the technical way, and towards black thrash. Yet that could also be because the volume is a little less loud than on its predecessor “Scourge of Heaven”. On the album the band still combines thrash metal, death metal (also because vocalist Cor may try to rasp like a raven, yet he still has more of a death metal tone in his way of singing) and viking and melodic black metal aspects: especially the atmosphere of the keyboards remind me a lot of Dimmu Borgir's “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”, but the guitars are tuned like a Viking metal band.
Opening ‘Legion X' starts the story of the founding of the city where this band is based, and opens fast with a mighty oriental guitar riff. Lyrically, the song is carried on in ‘Batavorum', home of the tenth Legion at that time. And where as ‘Legion X' is generally fast, with epic breaks in between, the semi-title track (‘Batavodurum') is more the other way around. After that, we make a leap in time to get to ‘Moenen en Mariken', based on the medieval Dutch opus of Mariken van Nieumeghen; a tale about an innocent girl seduced by the devil (Moenen) and finally saved by the mercy of mother Mary. In that song, the band goes into the direction of the epic character of Dutch Slechtvalk, just less pagan and doing the medieval character of the original poem just right. After these three songs, the band orientates on more international aspects.
‘Our Goddess Wil Rise' is a typical melodic black fast track. ‘Amducias' is not a song with lyrics about a deserted Roman legionnaire, but an intro to ‘Anatomy of Melancholy, in which I sense once more a strong Dimmu Borgir feeling, just with totally different kind of vocals and less blackened. That same goes for 'Archangels Fall', although that one is on occasions sheer metal, with some nice soloing.
Having said this, I must say that the musicianship on this album is good, and shows the progression of the band, both as musicians and composers. So far the good thing: the bad thing is that the tracks are rather similar. In order to make the jump to a higher (international) level, with perhaps finally a real label behind them, they should create more variety without going beyond the musical boundaries of this band, and I guess that is where the challenge for the band's future is. Nevertheless I must say that individually, all songs most certainly stand their ground!
As a bonus the band has also recorded an English version of ‘Moenen en Mariken', simply called ‘Moenen', and added a video of that song, although I doubt whether it will be frequently played at a metal video station; the clip looks more like an animation project from an art student, and I think not so many biased metal heads can appreciate that. My advice is to stick to the pure audio part, as these tracks are convincing enough, with the Dutch version of ‘Moenen en Mariken' as my personal favorite (a matter of personal taste I guess). Perhaps that is mainly because it has a somewhat different approach than the other songs on this album. For more info, go to the band's website, or mail their management, Black Label management …
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