Keep Of Kalessin - Reptilian review
|Band:||Keep Of Kalessin|
|Release date:||May 2010|
01. Dragon Iconography
02. The Awakening
04. The Dragontower
05. Leaving The Mortal Flesh
06. Dark As Moonless Night
07. The Divine Land
08. Reptilian Majesty
It's funny how winding some bands' career paths tend to be. Take Keep Of Kalessin. Through Times of War (1997) and Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark (1999) are pretty generic and unoriginal, although sufficiently listenable black metal albums. Musicianship, production, songwriting - everything is on an acceptable level, but they're simply not memorable. A few years later came Reclaim, an intriguing EP with Attila Csihar of Mayhem and Frost of Satyricon. Quite original, much more complex and varied, promising an interesting future for Keep of Kalessin. Somewhere between 2003 (Reclaim) and 2006 (Armada). Keep Of Kalessin underwent a significant change. Their black metal became suspiciously listenable and catchy, with production so good and clear that you could hear a bass drum pedal squeak for a bit of oil during slower (as rare as they were) moments of Armada. Pretty much the same could be said about Kolossus.
Reptilian is a step further from Kolossus. To have it out of my way, let me mention and then quickly forget the infamous Eurovision contest attempt. It happened. Shit happens. It should never happen again. "The Dragontower" is an abomination of a song, and should be immediately forgotten (it took whole one point on its way out of my head, considerably lowering my overall impression), but don't let it overshadow the whole album. Just forget that song, and you'll feel much better. The remaining songs are actually quite decent. The opener, "Dragon Iconography," has every quality the band possesses nowadays: multi-layered, fast and complex riffing; rich and textured arrangements; blinding speed of drums (Vyl seems to be one of the best drummers these days); and that unmistakable, the one and only vocal performance. Thebon manages to sound black metal-ish, while at the same time he is quite understandable and palatable even to people who usually despise black metal vocalists. Guest appearance by Attila Csihar in a few songs should be noted as well, although it's nothing we haven't heard from the guy before. "The Awakening" sustains the good impression left by the previous song. Hell, it's downright excellent, especially the riff that starts at 01:17 - completely non-black metal, but great anyway. After all, the last Keep Of Kalessin release that one could with clean conscience call black metal was Reclaim. "The Awakening" also shows that the band feels more and more comfortable with clean vocals and choruses, and that their main strength, the ability to make very catchy songs, is still firmly embedded in the songwriting process.
Just when you start thinking that Keep Of Kalessin are capable only of very fast songs you stumble upon "Dark As Moonless Night," with its marching rhythm and occasional, almost non-distorted guitars. The last song is a 14-minute monster, "Reptilian Majesty," where the spirit of black metal (no, not the early-Darkthrone variation) is resurrected in the first 4 minutes of the song, only to be slaughtered by the keyboard-driven interlude that the major part of the song is built around. Musical motives developed at the beginning return in the later parts of the song, complemented by a relatively slow part with a guitar solo, forming a surprisingly solid composition from start to finish. Not an easy task, considering that it lasts almost a quarter of an hour. Dare I say, Keep Of Kalessin's best song so far? "Reptilian Majesty" is so good that it wins an extra point, the one that was stolen by the-song-that-should-not-be on its way out of my brainpan.
I'm sure that most fans of black metal will be put off by Reptilian's accessibility and music chart potential, but there should be no doubt that Keep Of Kalessin are quite talented, with a peculiar penchant for bombastic arrangements and grandiose song structure. And these features will appear to a much wider audience than diehard Burzum fans. As will very good production, not as crushing as, say, Watain's, but still impressive. If you aren't a fan of black metal, but aren't afraid of lightspeed drumming and still quite abrasive vocals, you should definitely check Reptilian out. If you ARE a fan of black metal, you should check this album out, because it's musical value redeems its non-black core.
||Written on 04.08.2010 by Writes overly honest and totally subjective reviews when fancy strikes him. Which is not often. Which is probably good, all things considered.|
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