“Through Times Of War” came into existence when the majority of up-and-coming Norwegian acts sought out ways to expand their respective genres. KEEP OF KALESSIN fought the trend by providing listeners with a seven-course serving of pure Black Metal.
Laden with moderate blast beats, ominous vocal passages, and frigid guitar work the band’s first full-length release possesses a classic element preserved in tradition and rich in production. The raspy vocals and customary high-end gain find a unique juxtaposition in textured bass lines and impressive double-bass drumming. In terms of speed and attack the debut delivers great promise and little (other than freshness) to critique.
“Skygger Av Sorg” opens with clean tones, giving contrast to the straight-forward speed picking of other tracks. The drum work contains rudimentary jazz fills and off-beat accents that hint at unrealized dynamic possibilities for the band, but KEEP OF KALESSIN insist on conforming to a hell-bent heritage. The blaring tempos and resilient riffs of the release strike with brilliance but diminish under prolonged droning, and to make matters worse its unique elements lack appropriate showcasing. The high-end melodic riff three-quarters of the way through “Den Siste Krig,” the foggy keyboards highlighting “I Choose To Suffer,” and the abundant chorus marking the introduction to “Skygger Av Sorg” merit further exploration, but the invisible barriers of tradition blemish the band’s experimental edge and limit their efforts to regurgitation.
In spite of these oversights the release delivers a consistent barrage of calculated Blackness that only the finest acts can duplicate. The production, tone, and flow suffer little from the boxed-in nature of the compositions, and for those less critical of wintergreen music “As A Shadow Cast” will truly shine.
On an interesting side note, the final track contains a hidden treat (perhaps the most intriguing musical offering on the release) titled “Itch.” However, the cheese level is quite high lyrically and the high pitched shrills may send even the most dedicated of fans into hiding.
(Online October 3, 2007)