Krahnholm - Granting Death - (8/10)
Published on July 19, 2018
Granting Death is the sophomore full length from Moscow’s Krahnholm, a four piece atmospheric black metal band. Released in June of 2018 through Der Schwarze Tod and COD Music and Distro, the latest offering features thirty-four minutes across six tracks of swirling, fog-drenched black metal. Where the band’s debut album, 2015’s The Past Must Be Consigned to the Flames, showed their unquestionable potential in spite of a few stumbles, Granting Death sees a more confident band striding into their own.
It’s evident from the blazing maelstrom of tremolo riffing that begins the album during “Abyss Inside” and the following “A Whirlwind of a Thousand Blades” that Krahnholm has effectively stepped out from the shadows of that usual Russian black metal sound. Sure, the album still bears some of the scene’s striking influence that was so prevalent on the debut, but the band reaches more into the realms of the second wave this time around. The result is a fine blend of the raw and abrasive black metal Russia is usually known for and the cold fire and melodic undertone of the Scandinavian scene.
Swirling tremolo riffing and dense, rumbling bass lines surge forward while the rangy percussion moves in a frenetic, almost rollicking fashion. There are several moments where things sound remarkably similar to Darkthrone’s unholy trinity, though Krahnholm’s vocalist utilized a deeper, sinister growl. Though most of the tracks fire away with a burning intensity, the mid-tempo pacing of the title track sees the band immersing the listener in a wash of atmospherics. When coupled with the following melodic interlude piece, “Raven’s Feather, Wolf’s Fang”, it provides a fine respite in the middle of the album, because, after the calm, Krahnholm returns again with fiery tremolo riffing and cold maelstroms of heavy hitting black metal.
Certainly a step up from their debut, Granting Death offers a unique combination of Eastern European abrasiveness with the fiery melodicism of the second wave. The album is immersive, taking the listener through thick fog and dark pathways, reveling in its bleakness despite the constant interwoven melodies of the tremolo patterns. This is an album that manages to celebrate its somber blackness, eschewing the mournful theatrics and woodsy trails that others in the genre tend to focus on. Fans of early Drudkh, Kalmankantaja, Evilfeast, and Walknut should find plenty to dig into here.