Keep of Kalessin


Written by: EW on 20/07/2008 13:21:18

Fourth album \"Kolossus\" from forward-thinking Norwegian Black Metallers Keep of Kalessin represent one of my most eagerly awaited releases of 2008 thanks to their previous effort \"Armada\" being one of my favourites of 2006. Despite a steady rise in profile over this time it is fair to say they probably aren\'t quite where they deserve to be - for whatever reason I don\'t see their name on too many festival line-ups this summer, and in general the KoK name hasn\'t appeared in the Metal world as often as one would expect for a band that produced such a scintillating previous effort. Let\'s see if \"Kolossus\" can help change that.

After the almost obligatory opening instrumental, here more an atmospheric scene-setter than anything else with enigmatic acoustic guitars and high-pitched solo squealing, comes the barrage of double-bass drum hits and epic chord progressions that are to define the rest of the album and the KoK sound in general. The kind of Black Metal KoK perform in 2008 is a long way from the stereotypical raw Darkthrone sound people associate with the genre, but more in line with the well-performed, well-produced fare similar to Dimmu Borgir and Emperor: full of massive riffs and an epic uprising soundscape. In fact, much of what is going on here, certainly in the slower moments experienced during the title track and \"The Rising Sign\", feels like it could\'ve been lifted from the soundtrack to a film as epic as \"300\", as KoK deliver periods of tension and imperial bombast well-suited for a film as massive as that was. Another asset to KoK is the superb musicianship allowing for some brilliant individual riffs to be picked out from the pack, with two highlights being those found in \"Ascendant\" and again, the title track. The super-high-speed riffing that was a feature of songs like \"Crown Of The Kings\" from \"Armada\" is less present this time around but the general feel of \"Armada\" is very much there, with more emphasis on atmosphere through greater slower sections and subtle, but effective, uses of synth and horns.

Individual performances across the board are splendid, with extravagant solos galore from guitarist Obsidian C. that fit and flow with the tempo and direction of the music during \"A New Empire\'s Birth\" and \"Warmonger\", a powerful rhythm section manned by Vyl (drums) and Wizziac (bass) that maintains precision at the highest of speeds and a more varied vocal performance from Thebon than previously, consisting of greater chanted sections as well as the odd growl on top of his hoarse BM-style of old. Further directional changes since the previous record see a greater emphasis placed on cleaner chorus sections, with the likes of those found in \"Kolossus\", \"The Rising Sign\" and \"The Mark Of Power\" sure to stick in your memory and please all but the most miserable of BM diehard elitists. Just for completion, too, elements of an Emperor influence have crept further in to the mix, which as influences go for a technically adept Black Metal band is as good as they get!

Deciding on whether \"Kolossus\" represents a step up from \"Armada\" is difficult as whilst the former displayed greater overall speed and aggression the new one shows a greater sense of aura and attention to detail that simply cannot be ignored. Really, what is clear is that \"Kolossus\" is just that; a great Extreme Metal album that also benefits from a good introduction piece to anyone new to the genre, with the attention-grabbing choruses and excellent production. The future of Keep of Kalessin looks even brighter.

Download: Kolossus, Ascendant, The Rising Sign
For the fans of: Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Satyricon
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 06.06.2008
Indie Recordings

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