Keep of Kalessin - Armada
Tabu Recordings
Black Metal
10 songs (49'54")
Release year: 2006
Keep Of Kalessin, Tabu Recordings
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

It is wonderful when the spreading buzz about a band or an album turns out to be true. There was such buzz in the underground that Norwegians Keep of Kalessin, the brainchild of guitarist Obsidian C, have delivered a superb black metal album after a couple of previous efforts, line-up problems and reshuffling. Do we always have to believe what we are hearing? I don’t know about always, but in the case of Keep of Kalessin, believe it!

There is something very subtle that separates an excellent black metal album from a heap of noise. Playing fast and wearing the attributes does not make for an excellent black metal. Armada wonderfully captures the cold grim spirit of the style while offering well-crafted densely produced melodic songs, not that it is contradictory to successfully do both.

The band begins with the instrumental opener Surface and never lets go, not until the final title track is over. I would not trivialize Surface and say that these are the sounds of Viking ships approaching. Instead, the music rises as the soldiers of the Hydra, the dark army sewn and killed by Jason on his voyage with the Argonauts seeking the Golden Fleece. I was still digesting the imagery when Crown of the Kings and The Black Uncharted hit me. Insanely fast, but superharmonic tremolo, this is true black metal, no question about it. Yet, melodies simply swept me off my feet with vocalist Thebon not being afraid to use a clean line once in a while, and Obsidian C throwing us a flamenco guitar section amidst all this insanity.

The band impresses on both technical and cohesive fronts. The notion of riffing speed is redefined on Vengeance Rising, and such unbelievable technical execution makes one pay attention even if the particular song does less for you immediately. More importantly, the album never stagnates. Songs on Armada possess individuality, the band knowing how to grow each one of them to a culmination orgasmic point. It does not matter whether it is catchy blackened thrash of Many Are We, a touch of brood and melancholy on Winged Watcher, or stunning clean chorus of The Wealth of Darkness. If it is Obsidian C who is the main songwriter for Keep of Kalessin, here is one musician who knows how to develop and congeal a song. Everything fits on Armada, everything makes sense. Even the fuzzed out 3 min tremolo of Deluge (reminding me very much of Manowar’s Flight of the Bumble Bee) leads into the final awesome twosome of The Wealth of Darkness and the title track of Armada itself.

The talents of Obsidian C are vast and numerous. Hey, here is the way you turn your classical guitar education into a decisive extreme metal album. Here is to hoping that the guitarist warms up and does not develop the tendonitis which doomed Demonaz (Immortal). The rhythmic section of bassist Wizziac and drummer Vyl does not need to come up with many varying patterns. Blasting with an interesting metallic groove (I’d be hard pressed what part of the drum kit is responsible for this sound) and keeping up with Obsidian C is a worthy task in and of itself. Thebon, on the other hand, displays a multiplicity of styles, one minute croaking like Abbath, another moment going way lower and sounding like Insomnium vocalist (Winged Watcher), but also laying down some great clean choruses I mentioned above with the support of a backing crowd.

If you missed Immortal not being around anymore or Satyricon doing something different these days, Keep of Kalessin will be the healing pill. I have got to train myself not to grab the CD every time I am off to work every morning, something I have been subconsciously doing. Not that I will get bored spinning this so many times, but I am afraid I will ride this disc till holes start appearing.

Killing Songs :
Crown of the Kings, The Black Uncharted, The Wealth of Darkness, Armada
Alex quoted 93 / 100
Ken quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Keep of Kalessin that we have reviewed:
Keep of Kalessin - Epistemology reviewed by Alex and quoted 63 / 100
Keep of Kalessin - Introspection – Single reviewed by Jared and quoted no quote
Keep of Kalessin - Reptilian reviewed by Thomas and quoted 85 / 100
Keep of Kalessin - Kolossus reviewed by Ross and quoted 96 / 100
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