To A Golden Age


Sometimes bands come and go so fleetingly that one barely has time to acknowledge their […]
By Erika Kuenstler
January 28, 2016
Satan - Early Rituals album cover

Sometimes bands come and go so fleetingly that one barely has time to acknowledge their existence before they unfortunately sink back into a quagmire of obscurity. One of these legion bands was the French Death Metal band ASGARD, who released just one single full-length album, "To A Golden Age", way back in 1996, before splitting up a short while later. But two decades later, Transcending Records has blown the dust off of this old release, issuing a re-release on CD late last year, renewing interest in this bygone band.

Starting off with "Crusade of the Berserker", we immediately get hooked by the catchy riffs overlaying the tempestuous onslaught, whilst we get an absolute pummelling courtesy of the intense drum work. This stands in stark contrast to the meandering journey that is "Odhinn Ride", or the picked guitar sections of "The Way of the Nordic Light", which lend the album a rudimentary charm, reminding you that this was still a young band. What I fully enjoyed was the diversity of the album. For example the pinnacle of the album saw the epic proportions of "Highland of Dreams" take wing, conjuring up atmospheric soundscapes that would not have been out of place on a DEATH album. On the other hand "Day in Val-Hall" with it's ethereal strains and deceiving initial slow pace brings the listener back from the heights of "Highland of Dreams", leading us straight into the waiting arms of title track "To A Golden Age", in all it's bass-driven malevolent glory. This is perhaps the song where ASGARD truly shows us what they were capable of. After being ripped apart by this opus, "Sons of Aesirs" is an odd song that captures an almost dream-like quality. "Suicide" ends the album in a slightly more frantic and futile headspace, before leaving the listener in the bitter-sweet synthy embrace of "Outro".

Perhaps by modern standards "To A Golden Age" may not be that outstanding, but if one considers the musical climate of the mid 1990s, it is seen in a more avant-garde light. Incorporating a slew of different elements into the music, ASGARD undoubtedly could have been a band to be reckoned with, had their history been more than a footnote in the chronicles of Metal.

The production quality is organic, adding a rough edge to the music, sounding more like a live rehearsal than a studio album. Whilst this could have been much clearer, the rawer sound is in keeping with the original, and helps to remind you that you are listening to something that is a score of years old. Nevertheless, whilst this was a laudable effort at breathing a breath of fresh wind into a band long since gone, if you're into more contemporary stuff, this may not be for you; but for the history buffs, this is an interesting insight into a bygone golden age that might just be worth looking into.

6 / 10

Had Potential

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"To A Golden Age" Track-listing:

1. Crusade of the Berserker
2. Odhinn Ride
3. The Way of the Nordic Light
4. Highland of Dreams
5. Day in Val-Hall
6. To a Golden Age
7. Sons of Aesirs
8. Suicide
9. Outro

Asgard Lineup:

Xavier Bertrand - Bass, Vocals
Pierre Belleville - Drums
Ben Chazeau - Guitars
David Grimaud - Keyboards

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