The Black League

Utopia A.D.

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With their second effort, 2001's Utopia A.D. -- recorded barely a year after its very accomplished and popular predecessor, Ichor -- the Black League proved that they were more than just another temporary side project for drifting Scandinavian metal musicians. But, though it retains the stylized Roman iconography as well as the general creative direction introduced a year earlier, Utopia A.D. soon reveals itself to be a significantly inferior follow-up, lacking much of the diversity and sheer inspiration so effortlessly displayed on Ichor. Instead, the Black League resort to relatively one-dimensional pile-driving post-death metal numbers like "Empiria," "Voice of God," and "Citizen Cain." When they do make an effort to revisit the ambient-goth nuances that had added flavor to their earlier work (see "To Suffer and to Smile" and "Blue Sky Magic"), they also usually come up short. One notable exception is the sure winner "Harbour of Hatred," with its muscular riff and memorable chorus, but overall, this is a disappointing album and a clear setback for the Black League.

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