Keep of Kalessin Armada

Even though they’ve been around for more then a decade and have five releases to their credit, Keep of Kalessin have yet to garner much attention. Originally founded by Obsidian C (of Satyricon fame) and only recently becoming a solid collective, these Norwegian natives are likely to see their underground status become but a memory. In addition to exceptionally inventive riffing, this record is arguably one of the finer sounding black metal albums ever released. Instead of going for the traditionally raw, muddy sound that has characterised the majority of the genre’s subscribers, Armada’s production is akin to the newest, most expensive, major label backed metal. Despite being one of the album’s finer points, this sound comes with a cost. Thebon’s gut wrenching singing moments translate clearly and though it’s nice to see a vocalist trying to diversify and expand the boundaries of barked vocals, on more than one occasion it comes across like a bloodhound with a sinus infection. Overall, these attempts at creating something unique work in their favour and KOK take their artistry to the next level. The melodies tapped are incredibly creative and the songs are written to showcase their peculiar ability to manufacture hooks. Yet another impressive release from Candlelight this year, it’s looking as if this label is poised to single-handedly exhume and revive the rotten corpse of black metal and its legacy. (Candlelight)