Caladan Brood - Echoes Of Battle review

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Band: Caladan Brood
Album: Echoes Of Battle
Release date: February 2013

01. City Of Azure Fire
02. Echoes Of Battle
03. Wild Autumn Wind
04. To Walk The Ashes Of Dead Empires
05. A Voice Born Of Stone And Dust
06. Book Of The Fallen

Caladan Brood's Echoes Of Battle sounds like Summoning. There, now we've got the most obvious thing out of the way and can proceed. Echoes Of Battle features competent songwriting, an epic soundscape, good vocals, some catchy riffs and also, it is not very good.

OK, I know I have already lost many readers due to that last statement, but for those, who choose to stick around, allow me to explain why this album isn't all that great.

Caladan Brood's genre is atmospheric black metal and when it comes to this genre, atmosphere matters. As I said, the soundscape is epic, but unfortunately, that is all this album's atmosphere has going for it. The epic sound means that the atmosphere is only epic in the way that a lengthy book series is epic for being lengthy. A thick book without interesting characters, emotionally gripping plotlines, or surprising twists is not epic in any other sense of the word. The atmosphere on Echoes Of Battle is the musical equivalent of such a book.

When looking deeper into the album, past the atmosphere, past the production and the performance (which are both good, without a doubt) and into the songwriting, the limitations of Echoes Of Battle's ability to offer a truly great experience become even more obvious than when analyzing the atmosphere. Chord progressions. Yep, I am going there. The chord progressions are some of the simplest and most overused in all of music. Summoning, Caladan Brood's biggest inspiration, were guilty of this too, but not even close to this extent. Some chord progressions on the album are used in too many songs, others (like 'the four chords that make millions' in "Wild Autumn Wind") are such a cliché, that to hear them in atmospheric black metal is simply bizarre. If there's one feeling that an album from this genre should not leave the listener with, it is the feeling that a capable pop band could have written some of the songs on it. Not only are the chord progressions obvious, they also aren't very well justified by the somewhat saccharine melodies they support.

So, is Caladan Brood's Echoes Of Battle doomed to mediocrity? Shall this band never get the approval of arrogant pseudo-expert wannabe-musicians such as myself? Not at all. Echoes Of Battle isn't bad. As I said, it is simply not very good. It is moderately enjoyable for what it is, but it is not recommended for those, who look for darker, more gripping atmospheres, more originality and most importantly - for songwriting, that isn't coming from a textbook titled: "How to write my first song without putting too much effort into it".

To end the review on a more positive note: my guess is that Caladan Brood know they aren't doing anything original or creative. But as their many fans can probably agree, there is nothing inherently evil in being catchy, simple and familiar, as long as one is honest about it, which Caladan Brood do seem to be. To respect them for that and to hope that maybe they will get better in the future seems like a good approach in my eyes.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 4
Production: 8

Written by Metren | 07.03.2016


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 4   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 95 users
07.03.2016 - 16:35
I believe that being artistic has much more to do with the sheer enjoyment it brings than the complexity it might hold. As a matter of fact, 'simple' is an art unto itself. This is one of my favorite albums of all time. I respect the opinions however of this review; interesting read.
07.03.2016 - 21:53
Dark Cornatus
I thought this album was on part with Summoning's best work to be honest. I don't care if they sound the same, it's a great album to me.
08.03.2016 - 01:21
While I understand where you're coming from (even if I disagree with your summation and general feeling toward the album), I have to take serious issue with one statement you make:

"The epic sound means that the atmosphere is only epic in the way that a lengthy book series is epic for being lengthy. A thick book without interesting characters, emotionally gripping plotlines, or surprising twists is not epic in any other sense of the word."

I can only assume you haven't read the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont, which this entire album and even the band's name is inspired by or have read much about them, but as someone who has, I can tell you that the album very well captures the often hopeless, grim nature of that series, which is clearly the aim; the series doesn't in any way, shape or form lack for "...interesting characters, emotionally gripping plotlines, or surprising twists..." I imagine a band could make a Blind Guardian-esque length career off of writing about the specific characters, twists and paths of the books, like Blind Guardian have for Tolkien's works.

Echoes Of Battle doesn't seek to do this. Instead, it concentrates on either large scale events (each of which have the backdrop of either centuries or millenia of history building up to it), or the struggle of specific races and/or societies (again, with a rich backstory behind each) rather than specific characters or twists in the plot. Which is why, personally, I find the choice of style, that of an atmospheric, epic type (obviously of a Summoning worshipping variety) to be very fitting for the subject matter.
01.09.2016 - 16:36
Dungeon Master
Re-visting this album and my review today. I appreciate the comments and I am starting to think I might have been too harsh on Caladan Brood here. I guess this is what happens, when someone, who has recently started learning music theory and composing music tries to evaluate an album that isn't trying at all to be complex. It's so easy to think you know better than you actually do in this situation, it is so easy to make the mistake of approaching an album from a completely wrong angle. While Summoning and Caladan Brood and other similar bands still aren't my exact cup of tea, I think I've slowly learnt to appreciate this style a bit more in the last 6 months. I'd never rate this lower than with 7.5 if I were to re-review it. Also, I wouldn't use expressions such as "not much effort in the songwriting", since that once again, is pretending to know more than I can know, at least when it comes to bands, who's style isn't exactly my taste.

@ Druss: Thank You for the information about Caladan Brood's inspirations, you are a true fan of the band!
I am not nor have I ever been a musician or a member of a one-man band, especially a band that has a name that starts with "D".

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