Khors - Mysticism
Paragon Records
Atmospheric Black Metal
8 songs (38'40")
Release year: 2008
Paragon Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Stereotypes are meant to be broken. Just like Norwegian black metal is not all about aping Darkthrone and USBM is not only created in some one-man bedroom closet, Ukrainian branch of this, nowadays grown to be eclectic, genre is not only performed using native instruments with lyrics about Slavonic-Aryan hegemony and racial struggle. Kharkivchani Khors are heaven sent in this regard, to showcase one Ukrainian band’s ability to transcend the boundaries and labels, to deliver an album universally powerful and beautiful, nature-inspired and nature-glorifying, pent up anger at grievances real and imaginary set aside. Yes, Khors is a god in the Slavic pantheon, which may sound unoriginal at first, but almost as the deity their moniker is named after, Mysticism is focused on the powers of healing, of bright forces eventually resurrecting themselves, rather than painting all pagan issues in one broad non-specific stroke.

The magic of Mysticism begins immediately with the stunning opening buildup of Through the Rays of Fading Moon and never lets go. Through all eight tracks of this opus, through its many long instrumental passages , through harsh and whispering vocals, keyboard laden moments or winding guitar solos, Khors creates truly astral, cosmic, soaring atmosphere. Despite the band saying that they wanted the listener to comprehend their music as both glorious and gloomy, Mysticism makes me feel plain good. It does make me want to live, to create, to be constructive and tolerant. Primal nature worship can be clearly detected in deep, iridescently gleaming melodies created by Khors in Through the Rays of Fading Moon, In the Cold Embrace of Mist or Red Mirrors, but the attitude is never that of a disinterested bystander, everything is perceived through the prism of an involved individual.

The confluence of black, folk and progressive music can be compared with early Borknagar and past-Viking era Enslaved, but I hear just as much Love History and Agalloch. Khors nature description, however, is not copying anybody else’s. Theirs is somehow unmistakably Ukrainian, sometimes unsympathetic and cold (the beginning of Winterfall and title track), but in the end always warm and forgiving, even if it has to be coaxed there by going through a meditative state (the end of Winterfall). At the same time, Khors does not resort to gimmicks invoking these moving pictures, the closest they come to sound outright folky is sopilka-like (Ukrainian flute) sounds at the closing of In the Cold Embrace of Mist and in the superb instrumental Pagan Scars.

Describing individual tracks here is useless. If you are ready to be swept off your feet, feel free to do so whether diving in the abrasive embrace of Mysticism, the song, ingesting dreaminess of Milk of Heavens or contemplating alongside Tiamat Wildhoney-like acoustics and deep spoken vocals in Red Mirrors. If you think I am giving this the highest grade due to some homey influences, you are damn right, as it has been a while somebody celebrated Ukraine this splendidly. And, despite what some of the Khors’ members previous bands profess, the band is not affiliated with any political movements or nationalistic views. Michael “Maiden” Smirnoff of split-up Russian legends Mental Home contributes his engineering and clear voice.

Killing Songs :
All, and I am not exagerrating
Alex quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Khors that we have reviewed:
Khors - Where the Word Acquires Eternity reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
Khors - Beyond the Bestial reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Khors - Night Falls onto the Fronts of Ours reviewed by Alex and quoted 83 / 100
Khors - Wisdom of Centuries reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Khors - Return to Abandoned reviewed by Alex and quoted 94 / 100
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