I did not see this coming. On a whim, I picked up the new KEEP OF KALESSIN album, “Kolossus”, at a local record shop. I had never heard the band before, but was familiar with their name and knew them to be Black Metal. I picked this up at the same time as the new NACHTMYSTIUM (more on that later), to give myself a blackened fix I had not had in quite some time. Little did I know the majesty I was holding in my hands.
From the first listen, “Kolossus” grabbed me in its vice-tight grip, not asking, but forcing me to listen more intently than I had listened to an album in some time. In the short time I’ve owned “Kolussus”, I’ve listened to it countless times, and it has yet to become stale in any way. It’s one of those albums that has nuances that surface with every listen, and simply becomes more interesting and thought-provoking with every spin. Albums this epic and dynamic don’t come along everyday.
KEEP OF KALESSIN brings to the table a war mantra of absolute epic proportions. Think of the grandest cinema battles you’ve ever seen, and then imagine a Black Metal soundtrack to go along with those. Obsidian C has quickly proven himself to me, as one of Metal’s best songwriters, while Thebon spews forth lyrics with such venom it’s amazing the album itself isn’t poisonous. Add to that the nearly inhuman rhythm section, and you have one of the best bands in all of Metal today. This may sound like mighty large, even fanboy-esque praise, but I assure you that KEEP OF KALESSIN backs it all up. Two weeks ago, I had never heard this band, now they’ve managed to usurp FOREFATHER of their place amongst the top of my year-end list.
The first three songs (after the intro, “Origins”) are amongst the best triumvirate I’ve ever lent my ears to, but the quality definitely does not stop there. No, every song on “Kolossus” is an epic killer in it’s own way, making this one of the most complete albums in my collection. KEEP OF KALESSIN’s greatest strength is thinking outside the box, not letting the normal confines of Black Metal dictate what they should do. While “Kolossus” still fits into the genre, it doesn’t sound like any other Black Metal I’ve ever heard. For one, the album features some the biggest, most memorable and most angry choruses I’ve ever heard, which ultimately makes this one hell of a catchy listen. And where the previously mentioned NACHTMYSTIUM occasionally fails in some regards in trying to bend Black Metal to suit their own agenda, KEEP OF KALESSIN succeed (and exceed) in every way.
In case you failed to notice, “epic” is my word of the day with this review, as “Kolossus” is one of the most crushingly huge albums I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. Turning the normally oppressive genre of Black Metal into something that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Coliseum is no small feat.
From the classy album cover down to the very last note of the album itself, KEEP OF KALESSIN has impressed me mightily. Time will tell how the album will age, but if all goes as I think it will, “Kolossus” is likely to take the place of one of the albums on my all-time top 10. The reason I’m not giving “Kolossus” a perfect score is this: I’ve not heard their previous album, “Armada”, which many say is their best, and I’m so damned excited to see what KEEP OF KALESSIN can do in the future, that I wanted to leave some room for an album to potentially top this. But as it stands, I give “Kolossus” the highest possible recommendation.
(Online July 19, 2008)