Kraken Duumvirate - The Stars Below, The Seas Above review


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Band: Kraken Duumvirate
Album: The Stars Below, The Seas Above
Release date: October 2020

01. Star-Spawn
02. II
03. The Temple
04. IV
05. The Stars Below, The Seas Above
06. VI
07. Queen, Arise

Funeral doom is often competing with its black metal counterpart is kvltness, especially in Finland.

Kraken Duumvirate is quite a mysterious band. Supposedly coming from Finland and being composed of two members with the pseudonyms "Magus Polypus Apollyon XIII" and "Grand Architeuthis S. Dux", there is a shroud of unknown to pierce through here. Their only link is their Bandcamp, but even that is managed by a Swedish label whose only other "signed" band is an ambient electronic one. They've been active since at least around 2008, with two EPs previously released in 2008 and 2011, but The Stars Below, The Seas Above is the first actual Kraken Duumvirate album. So that's about as much background info as you're gonna get. Since judging by the background alone, I would've missed this release, but thankfully its fantastic cover art just could let me miss this.

I have seen someone theorize that this is made by someone who was involved in Dolorian, to which I say: c'mon, I wish. I mean, the sound, the country, and the timeline of when Dolorian stopped and Kraken Duumvirate does match indeed, but it's not like the Dolorian members didn't have any other projects that aren't anonymous, so I don't think there would be a need for an anonymous one. Still, Dolorian is a pretty good frame of reference for how this sounds in its very ambiental funeral doom with some experimental black metal touches. Add to that a bit of Ahab's aquatic doom, the melancholy of something like Shape Of Despair and the funeral kvlt of Thergothon and you've pretty much got it.

Compared to the EPs this one is a lot less raw and with fewer black metal elements, but Kraken Duumvirate do not compromise their kvltness with their more polished sound. The electronics in the interludes, the hypnotic creepy vocals, and the very slow and looming sound all contribute to it being as blood curdling as it is without necessarily being heavy or crushing in the usual sense. The polished sound of the instruments however does work well with the aforementioned elements to give it its eerie feeling both cosmic and aquatic, ironically both places still full of mystery to us, second only to the identities behind the pseudonyms. Or how exactly can the stars be below and the seas above? Is the ship upside down? Is the world upside down?

At its over one hour of runtime, The Stars Below, The Seas Above is quite patience testing for a band whose previous releases didn't even hit the half hour mark. And when your ambient interludes, great as they are, are of the lengths of most other bands' songs, that makes it even more of a slog to get through if you aren't won over by the sound. So I can understand if this isn't for everybody, but it's hard not to appreciate how well the elements work here. Kvlt without being raw. Looming without being heavy. Eerie all throughout.


Written on 30.10.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 62 users
30.10.2020 - 13:58
Cool band name, pseudonyms, album title. Going to check this one out.
30.10.2020 - 17:12
I'm actually rather liking this - I like the interludes, and the funeral doom is pretty lightweight for the genre, but quite pleasant because of it
30.10.2020 - 18:29
Wonderful release and I absolutely adore its sense of ambiance, could very well be my favorite thing E Doom so far this year. And yes, I'm convinced there's at least one Dolorian member (maybe more) involved in this. The similarity of the guitar tone (especially to Voidwards) is just way too uncanny to be a coincidence IMO
Check out Apothecary's Favorite Bands Playlist, brotendo. One track per band.
01.11.2020 - 16:55
Enemy of Reality
This was an instant buy to me. All it took were those first minutes of Queen, Arise. Brilliant funeral doom album, along with Atramentus the best of the genre this year.
03.11.2020 - 19:36
I gave it a listen and was pleasantly surprised. Their sound also reminds me of Emptiness.
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