The Konsortium - The Konsortium
Agonia Records
8 songs (36:46)
Release year: 2011
The Konsortium, Agonia Records
Reviewed by Charles
Potentially a bit of a ‘hype’ band popping up on the radar, here: The Konsortium is a largely-anonymised, mask-wearing ‘collective’ of musicians (the lineup is seemingly too fluid for it to be called a band, with about ten people apparently contributing in some form or another) loosely coalescing around Teloch (live guitars with Mayhem, 1349 and Gorgoroth, but whose main band is Nidingr). Perhaps reflecting Teloch’s leading role, The Konsortium has much in common with Nidingr’s fast and obliquely-anguled blackened thrash, but the album also exhibits an accessible punkish slant (evidenced by the appearance of Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik on vocals).

So despite the mystique The Konsortium assiduously cultivates, this is an enjoyable album which to an extent has much in common with the more mainstream ends of black metal, particularly Satyricon’s latest. Under the Black Flag and Slagens Barn, for example, are thumping mid-tempo stompers whose riff construction is comparable to a number of tunes from The Age of Nero. Both, though, are given kooky twists in the form of the moaning, Virus-like clean vocals; sinister melodic chants which give the sound a richly surreal feel that elevates them to an altogether higher level. Indeed, whilst the harsh black metal vocals can often be a slightly characterless rasp, it is these recurrent clean contributions which give the record much of its individuality. Closer Tesla, for example, is a furious blizzard of twisting, bucking black metal, given a chilling spectral quality by the wailing voices buried beneath the inhuman percussion.

As that last point would indicate, those put off by the Satyricon references would be making an error. Whilst several tracks here do groove, these elements are tightly woven together with viciously calculated and savagely fast blackened thrash, comparable to a more technically-minded Aura Noir or Absu. Knokkeklang and Lik Ulven duck and weave through tempo and rhythmic shifts, utilising riffing that would fit neatly on a polished death metal album were it not for the relentless hyperborean blast of the drums. Once again, the clean vocals give this a depth of tonal colour, which is just as well, because there are very few of the kind of lead guitar parts that can add light and shade to this kind of record. Album centrepiece Decomposers is an exception, basing itself around a sublimely spooky solo, which is one of the record’s highlights. Perhaps the musician that played it is one of the collective members that doesn’t show up very often?

The Konsortium is an album which matches savagery with compositional brains, and for that alone deserves some attention, despite any reservations one may have over the slightly gimmicky aesthetics. A more substantial concern might be the production: to me, the record sounds a little too thin, and could benefit from a richer tone in the guitars and drums. Nonetheless, this is a strong album and one of 2011’s more notable extreme metal releases.

Killing Songs :
Decomposers, Lik Ulven, Tesla
Charles quoted 83 / 100
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