Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Atlantean Kodex: The Golden Bough (2010)


Atlantean Kodex is a German heavy/doom metal band whose first full-length album (after a couple EPs and a live album) The Golden Bough came out last fall. I wish I would have known about it sooner, or it would have made my end-of-year list--as a dishonorable mention for worst album of the year.

The Golden BoughI'm not sure where to start, so I'll start with the style. In all its many iterations, doom metal can basically be broken down into two categories: there's riff-based doom and there's atmospheric doom. I think this is trying to fit into the riff-based category, since there's no atmosphere to speak of. It's sometimes heavy metal, sometimes epic doom metal. Which logically leads to the production. This is not filthy black metal. This kind of music benefits from a clean production, but it's muffled. So, strike one for apparently not knowing what they're trying to accomplish.

The vocals are clean and delivered with feeling, but they're just bad. It sounds like a decent karaoke performance, which would probably be OK if you were drunk enough and were actually listening to karaoke, but these guys recorded it and presented it as something worth your money. Instrumentally the music is heavy enough, but the riffs and solos are completely forgettable. The songs are either forgettable, annoyingly awkward (check "Disciples of the Iron Crown" or the chorus to "The Atlantean Kodex"), or ridiculous (check the minstrel stuff in "Vesperal Hymn"). Strike two for not having any talent.

Finally, these guys have no concept of pacing or economy in an album. The album starts out by plodding along interminably. This goes on for a half hour, if you don't count boring wind, water, and ship noises. Then they speed things up with the awful "Disciples . . ." song (which is mercifully the shortest actual song on the album), and then end it with another half hour of songs that go on longer than they're welcome, ending on the title track, which is a complete WTF? moment. All in all, it's over 65 minutes of tedium. Strike three for failing to assemble the final product into something a person can listen to.

The Verdict: This is one of the worst albums of 2010. I give it 0.5 out of 5 stars. The only reason I didn't give it an even worse rating is, there are some almost good moments buried in some of the longer tracks. And maybe I missed the point. Maybe it's about the lyrics or something, but I couldn't really tell you.


  1. I suppose this would stand on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as Mitochondrion as far as where my limited spending money should go.

  2. I don't want to pick on these guys, but yes. You should avoid this. Bafflingly, the other review on Metal Archives gave this album a 100% rating. But that was from somebody who only gives 100, 90, 10, and 0 ratings. Infuriatingly, I think it got an 8 in Decibel, which is why I checked it out in the first place. I'm starting to pay more attention to who writes the reviews, and not just to what the reviews say.

  3. At this point, when I see a really good or really bad review on Metal Archives for something I'm looking into, I almost always go and check that person's other reviews. You just can't take those things at face value, unfortunately.