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Katharos - Exuvian Heraldry Award winner

Exuvian Heraldry
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 11 July 2017, 11:27 AM

Symphonic Black Metal band KATHAROS formed in Sweden in 2006. After releasing a demo in 2007, they re-grouped and released their debut full-length album here entitled “Exuvian Heraldry.” The album contains seven tracks. The nine-minute “Abadonnas Intag” is led by ambient piano notes in chords of two keys carrying the main rhythm. A hasty and galloping rhythm ensues, with some truly outstanding percussion, and haunting chants of souls that seem to be trapped in Purgatory. The Black Metal vocals establish the dark sound, which up to this point is not overly gloomy. But when the various Symphonic elements strike out, it really gathers steam in layers of sound that envelop you. It also has a very regal sound, as you could be witnessing the coronation of a King of the underworld. “Thy Fortress of Regrets” is a battle of inner will. Clouds churn and collide, creating deep claps of thunder and a chaos that you cannot escape. Meteors reign from space, setting fire everything around you. This is an exceptionally profound and transcendental track.

“Svaneti” is an eight-minute opus, rich with a diversity of different sounds, synths and meters. Intricate webs of connecting melodies are woven here, as the Black Widow constructs her visually beautiful trap of death. “De Cinere” nods to early giants DIMMU BORGIR, with a heralded intensity that focuses on esoteric chord connections and mysterious instrumental sections that sound like they are coming from gas emissions from a star in a distant galaxy. The vocals are raw and with absolute wretchedness. “Damnatio Memoriae” is another composition that defies a simple description. There are Progressive leanings here that come from experienced songwriting and a desire to explore rather than channel. This is sadly missing from a lot of music these days. Ever-shifting, you cannot pin point the identity of the beast that lurks in the shadow. That instrumental passage is like a warning that you cannot ignore, igniting chills up your back and neck.

“Awakening the Converted” is the closing track. Following some opening moments of total chaos, where the bass drum blasts sound like the continual firing of an automatic weapon, it settles a bit with some Symphonic elements that are downright frightful. The guitar work is hypnotic, and they sure now how to paint a backdrop of what it might look like descending into the lower planes of Hell itself. You don’t often get pyrotechnics in Black Metal, do you? Well, expect to be engulfed in them here. It’s odd—the genre’s roots go back to musicians wanting no identity, and a product with muffled production value and absolutely non-stop intensity—a veritable “wall of sound” with vocal shrieks that echo their anti-religious themes, to the point of a countryside with burned-out churches that are smoldering in the cold, dark of the night moon, a relic of the past. Sure, the foundation of that sound is still present. The magnitude of their vehemence will absolutely shred you, but the sophistication of their craft will electrify an inspire you. I’ve heard a lot of Black Metal in recent years, and the genre is expanding greatly. Here is one band on the rise for sure, and a real force to be reckoned with. So far, “Exuvian Heraldry” is the best Black Metal album I have heard this year.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Abadonnas Intag
2. Thy Fortress of Regrets
3. Svaneti
4. De Cinere
5. Schaktet
6. Damnatio Memoriae
7. Awakening of the Converted
Martin Mussbichler – Bass
Max Mussbichler – Guitas
Richard Annerhall – Guitars & Vocals
Christofer Skold – Keyboards 
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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