Azure
King of Stars-Bearer of Dark

Despite the power metal cover, Sweden’s Azure deliver a pretty solid slab of melodic and accessible black/war metal, and thanks to Deathgasm, King of Stars-Bearer of Dark now has a US license from Pulverized Records.
This is as ‘nice’ as black metal gets, with the catchy restraint of early Norther meets the epic dynamics of Epoch of Unlight’s (though far less quality), clean sound free from overwrought synths (though there are some) and theatrics despite the fantasy themes. Robert Kanto has a clean rasp/shriek with the occasional growl and clean moment, the guitars are crisp and the atmosphere is suitably fantastical-resulting in an enjoyable, simple album.
There’s noting truly stellar on King of Stars-Bearer of Dark and it’s relatively safe black metal album, but it is consistently enjoyable throughout the 8 tracks. After the brief opening blast of the aptly named “Greeting Chaos”, Azure settle into the more restrained and melodic “Dead Man’s Shadow Flickering” complete with classical/progressive metal solo. “The Lake of Death (Magnio)” is the first track that shows Ranto’s vocal variety as well as some nice structures and guitar work. “Whispers Of Echoes Passed” shows an enjoyable, slower pace while “Selene-The Spirit” has a more thrash lean. In all, the 8 tracks all end up being enjoyable with “Shadows in Midark” being a pretty epic standout and none of them really being weak as such.

Though I don’t usually comment of CD packaging, it should be noted that King of Stars-Bearer of Dark comes in a beautiful gatefold digipack, laden with solid fantasy art (read; dragons, swords and boobies) that contributes to the overall quality of the release.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 31st, 2005

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