Keep of Kalessin - Epistemology (Indie Recordings)

Damn you Norway and your progressive ways...
Release Date: 
16 Feb 2015 - 12:30am

I was a tad wary when I read that Keep of Kalessin had come in third place at Norway's Eurovision contest - let's face it; metal on Eurovision is (usually) a pretty watered down affair - and as the synthy, choral vibe of Cosmic Revelation (Intro) faded away, I feared my wariness was well justified. But then The Spiritual Relief kicked in and it was a case of 'Blimey' - it's like Fleshgod Apocalypse mashed with any number of Nordic folk metal bands; weird vocal harmonies over ravaging guitars and popping drums. It definitely brought a demonic grin to my face. In came a bit of spoken word and I pondered how the hell this type of stuff even got near Eurovision but then I remembered the progressive nature of our Northern cousins and it all became clear. The track just gets bigger and bigger with surging choral backing vocals that lead the composition off into new directions. All the glitter and pomp is shorn away and suddenly majestic keys pierce the tune and all the while some gigantic guitar solo caresses you. It just keep giving and I'm almost spent...breathe Albert, breathe...finally it's back into that mentalist opening section as a reprise. Goodness. Where can you go after such epic extremeness?

My Word! They're at it again with Dark Divinity; absolutely mentalist drumming with vocals that straddle le noir metal. A bent note that has me running for cover and a continuing choral element. It's huge and the vocals are layered like an old Queen tune. Suddenly it gets kind of groovy before nailing itself to some traditional power metal structures. This trio of cats like to mix it up, I tell you; though I probably could have done without the additional bits of spoken word. It's like a heavier, more insane version of Muse. Luckily The Grand Design gives me a chance to take stock with its slower pace. For about four seconds. Oof! It's back on again. Necropolis is like old school thrash and is rather hypnotic. A remarkably solid album so far. As Universal Core storms in, I ponder that maybe the drum patterns need a bit of mixing up but it's still pretty sweet and Introspection brings back the choral elements; did Celtic Thunder just slip into the studio when no-one was looking? This one wears its power metal badge proudly before (once again) changing tack because thats what these Kalessin blokes like to do. Suddenly Def Leppard come to mind.

Final track Epistemology has that relentless drumming again and is one of the least memorable tracks for me. It's still strong though despite the Celtic Thunder choir striving to come to the fore. As epic extreme metal goes, it's a pretty large album, and the symphonic touches are exceptionaly (a)rousing.