Onwards into Battle

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Originally released in 1999 in Bloodthorn's native Norway, Onwards into Battle is not just a concept album, but a concept album that continues the story -- song begun on the band's debut, In the Shadow of Your Black Wings. (The story is something about some epic apocalyptic battle or something; as always with this kind of doom metal, it's best not to ask too many questions about the lyrical content, because you'll eventually just start giggling at the sheer absurdity of it all.) Musically, the album makes impressive use of an expanded instrumental arsenal, splitting the furious unison guitar riffs and blastbeat drum assaults with lengthy sections of surprisingly delicate keyboard atmospherics and wordless female vocals. By 2006, when this album was belatedly released in the United States, such things were becoming a prog metal cliché, but at the time of its release, this blend of aggression and prettiness sounded impressively fresh, and even in retrospect, Bloodthorn are far better at balancing the tricky dynamics between the two extremes. They abandoned both the story line and keyboardist Geir Mikael, and female singer Christine after the release of this album; later releases found the band turning into a more straightforward black metal outfit.

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