Before you even listen to a second of music from Violent Sagas of the Ancients by Reptiel take a look at their cover art. It depicts an ancient warrior staring into the vastness of the sea possibly ready for battle. Judging this group by the cover art combined with the album’s name I was expecting a black metal album and ready for an onslaught of distortion and double bass drum, but to my surprise the album sounds pretty far removed from black metal entirely. Instead I was presented with Indie Psych Prog Rock that handed me rather infectious harmonies, esoteric lyrics (who uses the word byzantine in their CHORUS? THESE GUYS DO.) and a rather humorous, light tone that makes the album all the more enjoyable.
The band's lineup consists of Alec Way, Brian Weaver, Jason Gonzales, and Jason Yakich who all display some formidable technical skills as well as creative songwriting that makes their sound utterly unique and not like anything you would hear on the radio today. The songs are a bit silly as you sometimes get the sense they would be a good opener for Spinal Tap but in my opinion you sort of have to be when you decide to have a picture of a warrior as your cover art or start a song by singing “ I believe in black magic.”
After a short sparse song called “Prelude” we are introduced to “Byzantine Standard” which is one of the best songs on the album. The instrumental setup is pretty standard as we hear drums, bass and guitar but what makes the song work is the vocals. The verse in which the singer sounds like a somewhat demented version of Jim Morrison at times is catchy and infectious which is followed by the even catchier chorus. Add the bridge that contains thunderous toms and harmonies and we have a winner. ”Gamigin” was a lesson in sludge rock 101 as the song seemed to be a throwback to bands like The Melvins. “Servants in the Place of Truth” was another song that had a progressive momentum and as with the first song was a success because the vocals while “on and on” felt like the most commercially viable song on the album. “Lakam Ha” is the last substantial song that returns to the sludge rock vibe but throws in a couple of unexpected zingers to make sure you are paying attention before they close with "Postlude". Overall, this is a fun record that is as catchy as it is esoteric and worth some of your time to check out.
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