Keep of Kalessin
Epistemology

Since 2006’s watershed album, Armada, Norway’s Keep of Kalessin have teased with utter brilliance mired in mediocrity. Truly epic, brilliant songs like “Armada”, ‘Crown of the Kings”, “Dragon Iconography”, “The Rising Sign” or “The Divine Land” littered the last three albums and while 2010’s Reptillian seemed to remedy the peaks and valleys of the band’s consistency, I keep waiting for that killer album that just leaves you in awe from beginning to end.

And Epsitemology is soooooo close.

Even with Obsidian Claw now fully in charge and taking over vocals from Thebon (though you’d be hard pressed to tell in either blackened rasps or the clean vocals), the band is instantly recognizable as KoK, keeping in line with the last three albums, as Epsitemology (loosely meaning theory of knowledge and philosophy, and the album’s central concept) delivers glossy, epic, searingly melodic, synth laced black metal that’s commercially digestible but still black enough to have a little bite.

After the throwaway intro “Cosmic Revelation”, Epsitemology, as with the last few albums, opens in grand fashion and with more than a bang as the 10 minute “The Spiritual Belief” belts out a downright grandiose, furiously melodic track that borders on Wintersun like intensity and delivery with a chorus to simply die for. My initial worry that the track’s vocals were entirely clean and would signal clean vocals for the entire album were laid to rest with “Dark Divinity”, another furiously fast but epic track, with a little more edge and riff based structures that shows drummer Vyl is on a goddamn mission on this album.

Then as seems to be the M.O. for Keep of Kalessin, we seem to get a bit of a lull with a couple of more standard choppy, stuttering thrash numbers, “The Grand Design” and “Necropolis” (which seems to just really go nowhere for its last 2 minutes). Sure, they give you a break from the bombastic salvos (and give Vyl a break as well?). However, “Universal Core” returns to the blistering salvo and majestic blasts and let’s be honest that’s what KoK does best and why you listen to them. Because when they are ‘on’ and in this mode, they can’t be fucked with.

Penultimate track “Introspection”, the album’s first single, is a safer song, balancing both the band’s styles, but the album ends as it starts with the lengthy, monster title track that mixes the band’s trademark majesty and swirling tempered Middle Eastern hues, again showcasing how good these guys can be, but still often delivering some filler. But man, those two bookend tracks, “Divine Divinity” and “Universal Core” make Epistemology worthwhile alone and show Obsidian Claw and Co. are perfectly capable of carrying on KoK‘s sound with often jaw dropping results.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 23rd, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    the music is awesome – particularly love the groove that erupts during middle of “Dark Divinity,” and the symphonic elements that have been worked in throughout.

    However, the clean vocals are just not strong enough to match up to the power of the music. They sound too nasal and not as epic/awe-inspiring as ICS Vortex or Snowy Shaw on the last couple of Dimmu Borgir albums. In fact, halfway through this album I couldn’t resist the urge to switch back over to Dimmu instead…


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Ya know i wonder what those asshats moderators at metal-archives have as a collective IQ? Id tried to publish this review there and it was rejected because “no track by track reviews- please describe the album in broader terms”. W…..T…..F


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I got the same thing from them too on a few submitted reviews… I thought a track by track would look like this:
    1. Track Name – blahblahblahblahblah
    2. Track Name – blahblahblahblahblah
    etc

    fuckwads


  4. Commented by: Kevin E.

    Solid album overall… I have liked these guys for a while.


  5. Commented by: Michael Cook

    (Regarding metal-archives)

    They reject you, yet they keep letting a numbnut named Bitterman keep posting reviews giving EVERY album a 0. Good site.


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