I was listening to a lot of Summoning this morning, which promptly reminded me of a band I've been meaning to review for quite a while now, a band who also have been listening to a lot of Summoning; United States epic-black-metal outfit Caladan Brood, who despite their début only being released a few months ago, are becoming relatively well known through the underground community. Two typical reactions to their music are common; rejection on the grounds they sound like Summoning, or acclaim on the grounds that they sound like Summoning.
As easy as it would be to make this entire review a cross comparison between the two bands, I'd rather avoid consciously doing so and focus on what the band brings to the table themselves, when possible. Of course, even whilst trying not to say "Summoning" every third of fourth word, I fear I may only be able to relegate it to being a once-per-sentence affair. Regardless, a place to start is the cover art, which is unfathomably gorgeous; moreover, it looks the way the music sounds, which is always a good achievement. It's also superb to see artwork which has been painted. Lyrically, I can't claim to have read the "Malazan Book of the Fallen" on which a lot of the bands content is based, whereas when I listen to Summoning, I hear passages from Tolkein which I've word for word read. Musically, however, there is no reason why the listener shouldn't enjoy what they hear on grounds of what they know or do not know, and I can safely say I enjoyed it immensely; Caladan Brood seem to bring a more melancholy, sorrowful creature into existence than Summoning do, and it often feels a little thicker, like the mist enveloping the mountains on the artwork. There isn't such a pompous feel, either; a sincerity and emotion is present which doesn't get washed away by the hugely grandiose sound. The guitar work is in many places reasonably tangible compared to a certain band with whom Caladan Brood share many stylistic choices, and there are certainly places where it stands alone, rising above the synth completely; particularly for fantastic moments like the Bathory style solo and subsequent tremolo-section in the title track, all the while accompanied by hammer-upon-anvil programmed drums which verge from realistic to overtly electronic. Caladan Brood know that having programmed drums opens up a world of choice; you don't have to make programmed drums sound like the real thing, and for a large chunk of the album, they don't.
The idiosyncrasies within Caladan Brood's become more and more evident with time, and consequently, so do the ways in which the band differ from Summoning, which is something at this time, that I would like to emphasise the existence thereof; they are two different bands, and however alike they may seem initially, there are a reasonable number of differences too. The melodies, particularly, feel different; often more Norse or Celtic in feeling, which is also the case with the clean, echoing vocals deployed on occasion; very warm, vibrant and rich in their feeling, often forming some of the most rewarding parts of tracks to listen to, be they subtle or more overt. All in all, the two sounds just seem, and feel different. Granted, the artists are far from musical chalk and cheese, but it's nice to see that Caladan Brood, at least in my eyes, amount to more than an unoriginal worship-band; often a lot more. Another factor worth noting is that, unlike a lot of Summoning's material, you get the impression that Caladan Brood at times go to lengths to make their synth and electronic elements sound real; the violins, flutes and other accoutrements feel dynamic, earthy and natural for a lot of the album, as opposed to the dusty-keyboard-borrowed-from-the-music-department feel which a lot of Summoning's work very deliberately uses, creating a record on Caladan Brood's part which feels smooth-flowing and at times more evocative.
Including this one, I've mentioned Summoning eleven times; perhaps my quest to not dwell on them too often during the review has failed, but it must be conceded that it's almost impossible not to. Don't make the mistake however, of assuming that Caladan Brood aren't an interesting, exciting and thoroughly beautiful band to listen to in their own right; they are all that and more, and I can, with a great degree of conviction, assure the reader that "Echoes of Battle" will be coming to album of the year lists up and down the internet, and beyond, very, very soon.
This is definitely a 10/10.
Caladan Brood on Bandcamp
Caladan Brood on Facebook
Caladan Brood on Metal Archives