The Kingdom Of Glacial Palaces


World War III Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I have made no secret over the past five years that I am a fan of thrash metal - and, while I might not always agree with some of the messages, I've become a fan of death metal as well. The sheer ferocity of the performances, combined with the precision playing and speed the beats are cranked out at, just appeals to the eternal 16-year-old in me... never mind the fact I'm almost double that age now.

There are times, though, that a band tries to do too much in this particular genre that their overall musical vision becomes clouded. Such is the case with The Kingdom Of Glacial Palaces, from Poland's Belfegor (not to be confused with Austria's Belphegor... whom we'll get to soon enough on these pages). Their full-length debut effort shows there's quite a bit of talent behind the sonic curtain that drapes almost this entire disc - and, were it not for the business of the overall sound, it could well have been hailed as a masterpiece. As it is now, it's flawed, but shows great promise.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The group - bassist/vocalist Tormentor, guitarist Thagirion and drummer Lethal - are competent enough, showing yet again why Poland might be the center of the next true assault from the metal community. Tracks like "The Night Of The Tormentor," "In The Ravengate Of Winter" and "I'll Come From Four Sides Of The World" suggest that this group has great things ahead in their future.

So why, then, did producer Mariusz Kurasz layer the sound like he was trying to be the Phil Spector of the death metal world? Granted, such a concept works from time to time, as on the title track. However, when each song is draped with such a heavy sonic coat, the listener actually becomes tired under the weight of the music - and the interest level in the album itself can quickly dwindle. Tracks such as "We Go Through The Snow," "The Night Hunter" and "The Time Of The Empire" all fall victim to this misguided strategy - though I'm not blaming the band in this particular case. Now, if their follow-up album (which might be out in the summer) were to do the same thing with a different producer, I might change my tune a little bit.

What can't be hidden underneath the sonic muck is that Belfegor is a very talented unit who are surprisingly tight after a mere three years together. (What also can't be denied is that I couldn't make out a single word that Tormentor screamed... which, in retrospect, might be just as well. The only other thing I'd change is I'd bump Tormentor's vocal level maybe one click on the master tape.)

The talent is most definitely there, and it's safe to say the songwriting capability is there for Belfegor. But as The Kingdom Of Glacial Palaces proves, a well-engineered and produced album sometimes is needed to pull everything together... and in this case, it's not quite there. I'm intrigued enough, though, to give these guys more than another chance - after all, once that third piece is placed in the puzzle, all hell just might break loose.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of World War III Records, and is used for informational purposes only.