If you have to name only one true epic doom metal album that is taken from the catacombs and shines like a diamond standing side by side with the classics of the genre then, ”Will Of The Gods Is Great Power” by Scald should be your choice. Scald are hauling from Yaroslavl in Russia and their debut has over the decades dressed with the veil of cult and won the title of the “must have” for all fans of the sub-genre.
Almost a quarter of a century ago, in October 1997, and with the band already split up, the album was originally released on cassette only. It was too expensive in the 90’s to cut a cd that only famous bands or a record label could afford the cost and despite the fact that MetalAgen was a big label and Scald rather well known in their home country the album was released only on tape. As tragedy loves to flirt with the plot at this point Maxim “Agyl” Andrianov, their charismatic singer was already dead.
But let’s take first things first. Scald started in 1993 and one year later recorded their first demo. Entitled “North Winds” featured their first ever recorded song “Night Sky”(although the band had another two songs composed before that, written in 1993. One of them ‘Ragnaradi Eve’, was a great idea but not epic enough, so they kept working on it. As a result the song became 15 minutes long, and the shorter version later became part of the demo and also found its way onto their debut full length). For some reason while the working title of the song was “Morning Star” they changed it because this also (one of) the name(s) of Satan (so…what?) and also a name of an English communist newspaper of the time (so…what???). Of course the band explained later that they didn’t want Scald to be associated neither with politics nor Christianity (as well as anti-Christianity). A line of the song: “’Will of the gods is great power’, gave the title to the album and even though it is not proper in grammar terms it sounds cool. The original title of the record was “Will Of Gods Is A Great Power”, which has been changed to “Will Of The Gods Is Great Power”. MetalAgen tried to improve it by adding the ‘a’, but for some reason they lost ‘the’…
“Will Of The Gods Is Great Power” had a poor first edition. The cover artwork was awful and totally unaware with what Scald’s music represented. Even a song title was wrong as it was printed ‘A Timulus’ where it should have been ‘A Tumulus’. The sound is rough, almost primitive and it is one of the reasons why it is so atmospheric and obscure, and what fans find charming and love about it.
When the first issue on cd format came in 2003 via Wroth Emitter Productions the album was remixed. It was the first actually attempt for the rest of the world to know Scald, as only few people were aware of the band in the 90’s especially outside Russia. Truth be told the High Roller edition, is by far the best that could happen. The album was mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony. And the bonus tracks were remastered a few years ago by Scald guitarist Harald at his home studio named ‘XIII’.”
The first vinyl edition by ‘Kyrck Productions and Armour’ in 2005 gave an extra boost in order Scald escaping the underground status, and since that time there were a number of new editions of “Will Of The Gods Is Great Power”, in various formats.
Lyrically speaking Scald is influenced by Scandinavian saga and mythology and Slavic paganism. Of course they were also influenced by literature and cinema or even phrases from Bathory songs. ‘Eternal Stone’, which is based on an actual runic inscription I read about, or ‘A Tumulus’, inspired by an ancient Russian poem of the 12th century called ‘The Tale Of Igor’s Campaign’.
And of course many ideas came from Agyl himself – many of them being dedicated to the natural wonders of the North. Also ‘Sepulchral Bonfire’ is entirely his creation – the inspiration behind it was a Soviet movie about ancient Slavs called »The Primordial Rus«. For the re-issue of “Will Of The Gods Is Great Power” by High Roller Records the rest of the band’s members decided to use this song’s lyrics as a basis for the new cover artwork (created by Andrey Andreev).
Running more or less 5 minutes shy to a whole one hour featuring only 6 songs the album is based on the best elements that someone would find in Bathory Hammerheart-era, Candlemass, Manowar of the first 4 albums and Solitude Aeternus. We have to focus on the magnificent and unique voice of Argyl. Sentimental, full of emotions, passionate and sorrowful his voice was made out of grief and born to narrate epic stories and mourn greatness. The same material sung by a different person is another album. Yet the final result is a creation of a team and the chemistry between Scald members turned to be also unique. The instrumentation is flawless, the song structure simple but things are kept easily interesting with melodies and mixing power and classic metal influences and parts. I also think that sweeping guitars play a bit faster than the rhythm section (which is buried in the original mix) creating along with the use of synth, the folk passages and the guitar tone, an environment for them to shine, always along with Agyl’s tremendous vocal lines, and a senseless of time were the lengthy compositions avoid sounding repetitive or too long.
Don’t miss the High Roller Records “Will Of The Gods Is Great Power” reissue. Not only for the great artwork or the second bonus cd featuring their first ever song “My Sin”, a cover on Manowar and “Hail To England” and rare, unreleased material from 1991, 1993 and 1997. Mostly because I think that this is the proper way the band would wish had released it in 1996 with Agyl alive, with confidence, a great label watching their backs and hungry to take on the world with their epic ways…