Rating:
8.4
Keep Of Kalessin - Reptilian
10 May 2010


01. Dragon Iconography
02. The Awakening
03. Judgement
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.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Keep Of Kalessin
Album: Reptilian


 


written by Daniell | 04.08.2010



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Warrior_Of_Ice - 04.08.2010 at 17:00  
A much better review from the one's ive read.
Fane - 04.08.2010 at 21:44  
Very well written review and it's honest about the album. Truly the album shows what Keep of Kalessin is capable of doing. Also I accept that the album isn't for hardcore BM fans.
Skyum - 17.08.2010 at 08:29  
Quote:

Dare I say, Keep Of Kalessin's best song so far? "Reptilian Majesty" is so good that it wins an extra point


Quoted for truth.

Excellent album, almost lives up to Armada and definitely smites Kolossus to the ground.
BudDa - 17.08.2010 at 08:52  
I don't know if its just me but I just can't get past the clean-vocal-chorus-singing. Much as I have tried, I just don't like it and that makes all the difference for me.
Troy Killjoy - 17.08.2010 at 09:02  
Written by BudDa on 17.08.2010 at 08:52

I don't know if its just me but I just can't get past the clean-vocal-chorus-singing. Much as I have tried, I just don't like it and that makes all the difference for me.

The clean vocal choruses turn me off big-time.
skrätte - 17.08.2010 at 10:52  
I love this album, this band. Armada is still the pinnacle of their excellence, in my opinion. Armada is what I compare all other Keep of Kalessin albums to. I really like the pre-Armada stuff, but when they released Armada, they really seemed to hit their mark. Kolossus was great, Reptilian was greater, Armada is the best. I don't know why I feel that way about it... I just do.
silenius - 17.08.2010 at 19:47  
I find keep of Kalessin to be repulsive now adays tbh, cant stand their music, but well written review!
Doc Godin - 17.08.2010 at 22:14  
I think I'm one of the few people that actually liked The Dragontower, but I can't argue against the review that it really had no place on this album...it just seems to contradict a lot of what this album is about musically.

The review is a bit long, but it catches all the finer points and is quite honest.
Daniell - 17.08.2010 at 22:26  
Honest is my middle name

Long is good, ask girls!
Xtopher - 18.08.2010 at 19:32  
Lol. great review dan, nailed it. Dragontower isnt the best song of the album definitely, but i dont dislike it at all. i guess its a matter of taste. i also didnt think of that song as a Keep of Kalessin song while listening to it, maybe that did it for me. didnt have any expectations.
Eddie Misery - 25.08.2010 at 05:27  
Awesome review man. I was absolutely nothing but skeptical of this album before it's release, and even a bit after, when I heard "Dragontower". That song managed at first to turn me off to even the possibility of listening to this album, and I love Keep. They're great performers and great musicians/writers. But then I thought well fuck it, the whole album can't be like "Dragontower". And it's not. It's a stellar album. I love it. And interestingly enough, while "Dragontower" still remains my least favorite of the album, it wound up kinda sticking with me after a certain point hah--just a little bit. I still kinda laugh when I hear the chorus.

Anyway, this album kicks ass. I'm just "dying" to see how many tr00 kvlt people smash the shit out of this about how "non-kvlt" it is, so I can laugh and make fun b/c that shit amuses the hell outta me. Keep is a great band and deserves recognition.
MechanisT - 23.10.2010 at 22:56  
Killer review. Spot On regarding the performance; man, Vyl is some drummer and Obsidian really dishes out some wicked riffs...There are some nagging issues with this album but with tracks with the might of "Dragon Iconography" followed by "The Awakening" and "The Divine Land", this album is well worth the effort...

P.S: I also hate " The Dragontower"...
ScanDoppelganger - 28.11.2010 at 01:54  
Written by Doc Godin on 17.08.2010 at 22:14

I think I'm one of the few people that actually liked The Dragontower, but I can't argue against the review that it really had no place on this album...it just seems to contradict a lot of what this album is about musically.

The review is a bit long, but it catches all the finer points and is quite honest.


seeing them live pushed that song towards one of my favorites. It may have had something to do with the show being the last one of the tour, which meant chris from nile whas jumping around with a tambourine
sordid - 28.11.2010 at 15:11  
Great review. i agree on you.dragontower was the first song i had listened.and almost made me disbelieve this guys...armada is a great great album,kolossus it's a step below ... i thought they were descending!no way!!reptilian is an awesome album.very powerfull riffs,drums and vocals.this guys know what they are doing... avant-gard black metal!!!
moe5512 - 30.11.2011 at 01:00  
I thibk The Dragontower is cathcy
hellblasterr09 - 05.12.2011 at 17:57  
I think it's Keep's most varied and musically poignant album; it never gets boring i dont think. Dragontower is awesome, even better live.

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