Title: Codex Epicus
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Release date: 15 June 2018
Format reviewed: vinyl LP
Cold morning mist. Layering fog. The petrified air reeks of morbid corpses. Dirt and guts. Dark, tainted blood. The dismembered. Few survived. The brave. Closer. The ruins of a burned palace. Brown, overturned fields. To the horizon and beyond. The battle rages on. The ravished earth trembles … We hear the battleroar …
Four years after, and following the beautiful culmination that the “Blood Of Legends” was, and fifteen years since their debut full-length self-titled album, BATTLEROAR returns with their fifth full-length effort, “Codex Epicus”, released on June 15th on the Italian label Cruz Del Sur Music. Their third album issued by the label.
The vision of Kostas Tzortzis, Battleroar, formed in Athens in the year 2000, and has gone thru a few lineup changes in the last 18 years, since their formation. With the exception of the lead vocalist Gerrit Mutz, the rest of the band’s lineup found on “Blood Of Legends” was replaced. Battleroar returns epically with “Codex Epicus”, Kostas Tzortzis’s second LP with Gerrit Mutz, who sounds better than ever, and the first with Michael Kontogiorgis on guitars, Sotiris “Sverd” Tsolakoglou on bass, and completed with Greg Vlachos on the drums. I must say that I was very pleased that Gerrit remained a fixture in the band, and that he contributed lyrically to the new album’s compositions, despite all other departures. A big “Thank You!” to the former members of the band that gave us “Blood Of Legends”, and beyond. With that said, everyone knows that Battleroar is Kostas’s band, and that he is in constant search for perfection.
From the omnipresent ancient choruses (chanted by a real choir – credited as “The Battle Choir“), that add a great depth and dramatic element to the music on this album, to the invocative clarinet intro into the last song on the LP, “Enchanting Threnody”, and the magnificent fluidity that the band achieves on “Codex Epicus”, the music is supreme. As a side note: the CD and digital (including streaming) versions of the album contain a bonus track, “Stronghold”. Battleroar dives into the darkest, doomiest and heaviest album to date. Whereas, on “Blood Of Legends” the compositions were a collective band effort, on the new release, Kostas is entirely responsible for all the musical content, with strong lyrical contributions from Gerrit, as previously mentioned. As a very important accolade, the legendary founder and frontman of Manila Road fame, Mark Shelton, wrote the lyrics and performed the vocal duties and a guitar solo on “Sword Of The Flame”. This is perhaps one of the last, if not the last recording made by Mark Shelton, whom tragically passed away on July 27th. “Sword Of The Flame” is perhaps Mark’s last ode to life.
Darkness is threatening the light
Winged demons come in flights
My men still loyal at my side
Together we stand and fight for love and life
“Codex Epicus” reveals a very tense instrumental density. Magnificently executed throughout the album. The supremely pure Epic Metal is superbly accented by some of the best melodic arrangements ever pressed on wax. Lyrically, the album is on both sides of the coin: conqueror and defender – keeping the entire thematic of the material strongly rooted into the tumultuously epic tales. Old, forgotten odes and fables. Gods, legends and martyrs. Heroic battle between good and evil. The sacrifice. The honor. The death …
Take us to the sky
Damned the cowards
Who fight afraid to die
BATTLEROAR is stepping up the epic with each new album! This time it’s like the Gods and Heroes of Olympus are going into battle. From the distant shores to the crest of Heavens – the battleroar is heard! Loud and clear. Utterly recommended. 10/10 UHF