( played 19 times )
Order of Splendour, “The Royal Priesthood”
The Royal Seat, 1998
In this post, I mentioned how I have been trying to digitize the songs from this extremely rare tape. Doing so has been a herculean task, due to the fact that when I received the tape, it was too tightly wound to play in my portable cassette-to-mp3 device. Luckily, I happen to have an tape deck built into my car, which I thought I’d never get use out of. That tape deck is designed to handle bumps on the road, and so played this cassette with ease. After playing through it many times for over a month, the actual tape in the shell was stretched enough to play in my portable device, and with a little remastering I got the above result. I think I might have one more go at digitizing, since my device produces a lot of flutter in the playback, which you can hear in this mp3. A friend of mine also agreed to let me use his high-end tape deck. Until then, here is my personal favorite off The Royal Seat.
Recorded within a decade of the fall of soviet style communism in Bulgaria, the synths sound almost comically outdated, like an educational video in late 60s or 70s America. Sometimes brooding, sometimes bombastic, they largely determine the trajectory of the song, the guitars content to follow wherever they lead. Towards the middle of the song we hear a clean guitar interlude that sounds like it could have been lifted off an Alcest album. As the volume picks back up around the 3:45 mark, the black metal vocals return with a mixture of DSBM style howling/wailing and yelling. The guitars come through strongly, meandering off in a kind of cold melancholy that finishes the song.
In many ways, this track rehearses all of the symphonic black metal tropes set up by Emperor, Gehenna, and Dimmu Borgir. In other ways, it has elements hitherto unprecedented in unblack metal, and rarely replicated since. We would not see another band like this from the Balkans until almost a decade later with Romania’s Cromleh.