I may be the only person on planet Earth who actually likes KEEP OF KALESSIN’s Eurovision single, “The Dragontower”. Sure, it’s a nearly painful attempt at commercialism, and really sounds nothing like the band’s past efforts, but it’s still damn catchy and memorable. It reminds of the underrated German band MIDWINTER, mixed with something along the lines of modern jump-on-the-bandwagon Viking Metal (and I like that stuff, despite how contrived it might be).
But, in case you’re in the majority and thought “The Dragontower” was a heaping pile of dragon shit, fear not, for it sticks out on “Reptilian” like a white guy at a Black Panthers convention. In other words, it should have just stayed away from the album, and been kept as a single, as the rest of “Reptilian” sounds nothing like it.
Outside of the song I just spent way to many words on, “Reptilian” generally continues traveling down the same path KEEP OF KALESSIN turned on with “Armada”. That is, “Reptilian” is a conglomeration of synth-infused melodic Black Metal, melodic Death Metal, and something “epic” (that is, it sounds really huge). While “Kolossus” basically took the sound of “Armada” into a slightly more commercial (read “catchy”) direction, on “Reptilian” KEEP OF KALESSIN have veered into more progressive territory.
The songs found within the new album – from the opener, past the previously discussed speed-bump, to the lengthy end – take several detours along the way. This is nothing new on KEEP OF KALESSIN album, but it feels more deliberate, at times even forced, somewhat handicapping the album’s immediacy. If “Reptilian” were a bona fide grower, this would be easily overlooked, but even after several listens it never grabs in the same way as its two predecessors.
Now that’s not to say that “Reptilian” is a bad album, because it’s not, it just feels like a bit of a misstep for a band operating under a lot of momentum. One minor hiccup is certainly forgivable for band with a string of pretty good to great releases, so I’ll let “Reptilian” slide. However, let’s just hope for KEEP OF KALESSIN diehards that “The Dragontower” isn’t a sign of things to come.
(Online September 28, 2010)