Never judge a book by its cover. One look at Reptiel’s Violent Sagas of the Ancients is going to get you ready for some Viking metal and you’ll be sadly disappointed. These guys clearly set out to create something different and something different is exactly what they created.
“Prelude” opens the disc with a short and awward intro. It seems out of sync and sets the stage for some gothic-tinged rock. Again, though, that’s not really what you get with the rest of the disc.
“Byzantine Standard” really sets the standard for the disc and lets you start to sink your teeth into it. The taste, to be frank, is a little bitter. The track is overly dramatic, as are many others (notably “Lakam Ha”), with a strong classic rock vibe that belies some strange lyrical stylings. Based on the conviction with which these songs are played, it’s pretty clear that they aren’t meant to be as vapid as they sometimes are.
“Gamigin” is lighter fare, a doo-wopping little ditty that still leaves one wondering exactly what these guys are going for…or if they’re simply being different for the sake of being different. It stands out against most of the rest of the disc, as does “Servants in the Place of Truth”, which is a pretty strong song despite sounding like a bad Styx cover.
“Fanfare” is another stand alone track. Another brief one, this haunting piano instrumental may be the best 35 seconds on the disc. That it’s left so undeveloped is a true shame.
The second half of the disc finally settles down into a cohesive sound, but as a result, the tracks tend to blled together. “Give Them Land” and “On and On”, in particular, are hard to tell apart, blending their mellower, psychedelic sound together into seemingly one long track.
Reptiel definitely gets points for ambition and desire. They believe in what they’re doing and there is definitely musical talent here. But believing in what you’re doing isn’t the same as knowing what you’re doing. That same conviction stands at times in stark contrast to the songs themselves, which seem silly at times. This, too, would be fine, if the guys in Reptiel acknowledged it. Instead, they seem to stick to their guns even more fiercely, and the result is akin to Tim Curry trying to convincingly and menacingly sing the songs in “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in an attempt to make it into a serious horror flick. The violence in this saga too often comes from the schizophrenic clashing of styles and visions – as what Reptiel is doing often seems to be at odds with what they think they’re doing.