Before morphing into some kind of industrial hybrid act, Monaco’s Godkiller released this charming yet flawed bagatelle of medievalist melodic black metal. Stylistically, it could be described as a loosely knit mélange of early Satyricon, Emperor and Summoning if channeled through the warm, emotive dialect of Mediterranean culture. That much of the material is voiced in a quirky, mannerist voice tells us that this can only be the work of a solitary artist.
Backed by the insistent clamor of programmed drums, surges of tremolo-picked guitar figures set the stage onto which the mainly keyboard-driven minor-chord melodies stretch out in grandiloquent drama. Tortured shrieks in the vein of Burzum or Forgotten Woods provide authenticity and work as a rhythmic counterbalance to percussion restrained by economy. While relatively short in time-span, compositions are obviously aimed to towards the epic, complete with introductory pieces, interludes and narrated passages.
Conflict, triumph and the celebration of eras either imagined or long past, all encapsulated within 20 minutes of playing time – but does it really work? Not really. The presentation suffers from its overt artifice. It’s an obstacle that has been overcome on several occasions within black metal history, but the songs featured here aren’t compelling enough to provide a suspension of disbelief. While some of the melodies hits the spot, most of the time they’re not evocative at all. Or rather, they are more likely to evoke nostalgic recollections associated with certain video games from the past than that of ancient medieval times. Even worse yet are some of the awkward transitions between crucial song passages. Kind of like Satyricon, but with less interesting working material.
Still yet, there’s something endearing about records like The Rebirth of the Middle Ages. It’s obviously the product of a strong and vivid imagination, presumably held back by experience and technical/compositional ability. As such, it is superior to most current material in the genre, where the situation tend to be reversed. Unfortunately, Godkiller would not stick to the vision portrayed here, choosing instead to diverge into other areas of exploration before settling into its current state of hibernation. Until the uncertain return of this mysterious act, we’re left with a rainy day album carrying on its shoulders a desperate sense of unresolved potential.