Tulus - Biography Obscene
Indie Recordings
Black Metal
10 songs (34:54)
Release year: 2007
Bandcamp, Indie Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

For many, Norway’s Khold was a good, if not great band. Mixing traditional Black Metal with Stoner/Doom influences, the band trod its own path and trod it well - that there wasn’t much in terms of progression was neither here nor there. When Khold officially went on hold in 2006, vocalist/guitarist Sverre and drummer Sarke decided to reanimate their previous band, a band legendary in Black Metal circles for the most chill-inducing, genuinely frightening cover art ever seen in the genre: 1996’s Pure Black Energy. The band referred to is, of course, Tulus, and the first release from the band for seven years can be defined very simply: it sounds like Khold – but with progression!

Of course, the obvious question is why bother? Not why bother to make this music, but why bother to change bands? Khold fans, simple creatures though we may be, are nonetheless more than capable of accepting change, especially when the end product is as good as this. Whatever the reason, the end fact remains the same: Biography Obscene is the best thing yet from these minds.

From the moment that Prelude hits, those familiar with the band from afore will know something has changed. Rather than the expected immediate Blackened gallop, we instead have a more sedate violin, ominously setting the scene for the catchy riffs that fans of Khold have come to know and love. From the outset, you get the impression that the band is playing for its life, technical riff and drum breaks shooting forth before the violin returns, Metal and Folk chasing each other in a dark two-minute intro that works wonderfully.

Natal Day follows, taking a more traditional route into Black Metal and is set to be yet another live anthem for the band until behind the riffs a piano starts to tinker, immediately changing the boundaries. Two minutes in, acoustic strumming turns into an old school solo, and the extent of Tulus’ experimentation starts to become clear. By introducing various string instruments carefully and tastefully, the band has enhanced its sound tremendously, especially since these additions act not as tiresome introductory pieces but as an integral part of the darkness. For example, the cello on Stories Untold that merges with the Metal to create an atmospheric effect above and beyond anything accomplished yet, not just adding a token Folk influence but imbibing it so it becomes one with the Black of the Metal.

The album continues, surprising and delighting in equal measure, especially the second half, in which the likes of Morbid Curiosity appear and fade, drawing you in with catchy riffs and choruses before stunning you with Demise’s trombone and saxophone, taking an excellent song to further heights – even being reminiscent of Belgian ‘Brown Metal’ jazz nutters Lugubrum. This is good enough itself, the fact that it is followed by the title track, which sounds like early Celtic Frost jamming with a drunken Jazz cabaret, is too impressive for words.

Ultimately, though, this isn’t perfect, and for the simple reason that there’s nowhere near enough of it. The average track length of three to four minutes restricts the band terribly – with six or seven minute songs a true masterpiece could have been born. As it is, the album isn’t far past half an hour long, making this a very exasperating listen just because it ends too soon. Anyone that listens to this will know that the band is capable of making an album double this length, and when that day comes and an album is released that actually knows how to pace itself, how to keep you waiting for the experimentation, how to not just take a quick paddle into the darkness but to dive in and sink into the deepest depths, then Tulus/Khold will conquer all. Until then, Biography Obscene is a fascinating glimpse at genius, albeit genius crushed and restricted.

Killing Songs :
Stories Untold, Morbid Curiosity, Demise, Biography Obscene
Goat quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Tulus that we have reviewed:
Tulus - Old Old Death reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Tulus - Olm og Bitter reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
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