Keep of Kalessin - Armada (Candlelight Records / Tabu Recordings) - Back
Here we have a 10 hymn, 50 minute blast of savage black metal technicality called "Armada"! Keep of Kalessin return with their first full-length in about 7 years ("Reclaim" EP was 2003) and have obviously, progressed quite a bit. Not in a disappointing way, but the Keep have sorta traded the fundamental black approach for a more professional one. What do I mean? The sound is extremely polished, the newer vocal harmonies seem to branch off more from the guitar riffs, the fast-pace is more thrash-like than black metal, and the songs don't really feed off each other like with the "Agnen" album. They each serve their own single purpose and yet, the album seems very conceptual based on the artwork and the lyrics inside the jewel case. OK... back to the sound. The drumming caught my attention immediately. Vyls' stickwork left me thinking of a guy by the shorter, alias name of Hellhammer. It so much sounds like the last couple of Mayhem releases! Mostly with the hyper-fast double kicks, but also quite noticeable are the amazing combo-chorus-like fills between the various acoustic / electric guitar breaks. Which now brings me to the guitars. The bass guitar has a very trebly sound, which creates an acoustic-like atmosphere and helps carry the electric / acoustic guitar on the album. Obsidian still retains the blackened guitar sound from the first two albums, which also is trebly, but his fast picking is way faster and he mutes the strings a lot more. In fact, aside from a more dynamic vocal range, this album would have been a more suitable tangent for Dissection’s last stand. With the vocals ranging, basically, from black metal to power metal, Armada lacks almost nothing in the way of diversity. They serve as an emotional psychosis for the album’s aura, which is majestic and also chaotic. I enjoy the album as a whole, but a few tracks that have stuck in my head are "Winged Watcher" and "The Black Unchartered". If you've never heard of these guys and want something fresh in the black metal vein, I am highly recommending Keep Of Kalessin! For everyone else that are familiar with them, it may or may not take a few listens- but you'll enjoy this...

Rating:
90

Reviewed By: Thomas Mitchell