Keep of Kalessin
posted on 6/2010 By:
If you took 3-4 tracks from each of the last two Keep of Kalessin albums (Armada and Kolossus) you’d have arguably one of the most epic black metal albums of all-time. About half of each was sheer brilliance; the other half, pretty mediocre. With Reptilian, it appears that Obsidian and co. have finally delivered a full album of their majestic, slightly commercial take on melodic black (ish) metal.
First off, forget all the talk about the song “The Dragontower” being entered into the Eurovison song contest – that’s all blown way out of proportion, as that song is fine, not the best on the album but a solid track nonetheless. As with “Crown of the Kings” and “A New Empire’s Birth” did for their respective albums, “Dragon Iconography” starts the album with a gloriously epic bang, delivering trademark KoK pace and elements: furious blast beats, sweeping majestic riffs, rousing keys and a stirring chorus, coming together to form a track good as anything found on the last two efforts. The closing is simply breathtaking.
Fully braced for a ‘miss’ track after the opening home run, “The Awakening” initially hints at a strange stop-start letdown, but soon an epic chorus kicks in, showing KoK fully on their game--even more so for the blistering “Judgment,” possibly the bands sternest track in some time if it weren’t for some clean (but still smooth) vocals.
And so on to the “The Dragontower,” the cause of much consternation among KoK and black metal fans. Okay, so it’s the albums weakest cut, but it’s a nice breather, and catchy little number in its own right; certainly not the abortion it’s been presented as in some arenas. “Leaving the Mortal Flesh” picks things back up, though, with more blistering blasts and sweeping melodies. “Dark as A Moonless Night” is a moody slow burner with a soaring, somber chorus, which allows Thebon to spread his vocal wings a little, though on the whole his performance is a little nastier than Kolossus.
Then comes arguably the album's (if not one of the band's) finest moment in “The Divine Land,” a track as epic as epic gets, even with the largely clean vocals. The main riff is to die for, and the entire track swells with melodic intensity that I doubt will be topped for the rest of the year (just check out the mid-song orchestral injection). It’s one of those tracks that’s worth owning the album for. As if that wasn’t enough, the album ends with the 14 minute ‘title track’ of sorts “Reptilian Majesty” and it’s enthralling for its entirety, culling from all of KoK’s elements--including a nice mid-song bridge which shows a more creative and restrained KoK--while still being film-score epic. This huge track puts a regal exclamation point on the album.
On the whole, the production is as polished as you’d expect, the vocals are harsh but has some slithering clean croons here and there, and the drumming is top notch. It all comes together to become album that KoK have hinted at for four years now. Reptilian is one of the most intensely epic releases of the year.
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