Review Summary: A clusterf*ck of melodic black, doom, and death metal with Slavic Pagan folk outlinings and heavy rock chugging. I'm riding on a dolphin and doing flips and shit......
There are two specific things that I love about Ukraine although I have never actually visited the promised land. Ukraine has a knack for producing some of the hottest babes on the planet as well as creating some of the most interesting black metal to date. It’s these two things alone that make it worth considering leaving this obese, corporate hellhole for a more cultural affair. First off is Milla Jovovich, an old favorite of mine starring in the superb Bruce Willis sci-fi epic The Fifth Element, the engaging tale based on Joan Of Arc, and all of the Resident Evil films not to mention boasting some musical talent of her own. Then there’s Mila Kunis, another fan favorite playing a large role in my favorite show of all time, That 70’s Show. To round out the trifecta is new Ukrainian super model turned actor in Olga Kurylenko who in my opinion is the hottest woman alive. Enough horsing around though, Ukraine has a darker secret that I would like to point out to you folks. The extreme metal scene, quite miniscule to Norway’s long and illustrious career nonetheless has proven to be one of the strongest breeding grounds to date producing such luminaries as Drudkh, Nokturnal Mortum, and Hate Forest as well as offering a glimpse of the present and the future in Kroda, Walknut, Astrofaes, and the star attraction Khors.
I recently discovered the band Khors off of lastfm which consists of members of Astrofaes and Hate Forest. A far cry from the droning and grimly produced black metal of the two previous bands, Khors follows a similar route to Kroda, Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh’s pagan folk route yet to a slightly diminished degree. Mysticism, the bands fourth album since their official 2004 inception binds together several prominent sub genres creating one bold and eclectic album. Picture the sluggish trudge of doom metal holding hands with the gloomy atmosphere of gothic rock while embracing the trippy and at times flamboyant nature of keyboard driven Slavic pagan metal with the slicked back aggression of melodic black/ death metal coming in for a snuggle and you might have an idea what this sounds like. Throw in a pinch of progressive rock, slick production, and varied songwriting and you have one solid metal album. Starting with the intro song “Through the Rays Of Fading Moon’ this brief sampling is an accurate display of what’s to come, a highly melodic affair alternating between clean melodic chords and spacey synthesizer runs before increasing the tempo’s speed and power.
The albums guitar work is split up between the two guitar players Helg and Nort. What they lack in heaviness is quickly made up in structured yet extremely catchy riffing, superbly crafted melodies, and impressive soloing. The duo shine considerably during their many instrumental passages that flesh the album out into more atmospheric than heavy metal. Ranging from the dark melodies and commonly used tremolo picking to the more Spanish acoustic guitar sounds of “Pagan Scars” I am very impressed with the bands guitar playing. With the keyboards and sawing bass tones complementing the many creative riffs and melodies, Khors also excel at creating neck snapping rhythms, at times even bringing in a modern rock element to the mix as perfectly executed in Winterfall. The keyboards used switch off between textural underpinning to promote atmosphere and the more upfront chiming that Nokturnal Mortum is known for. At times graceful and majestic and at other times bordering levels of cheese, they never stray too far in self indulgence which greatly strengthens the bonds of Khors music. The bass playing and drumming combination of Kahaoth and Khorus serve as a perfect mold for partners in crime. The bass pulsates a rich and heavy tone that is bolstered by an efficient drumming machine. The tempos of the drumming match the overall feel of the album where the gear always remains stuck between 3rd and 4th. Double bass is quick, not too excessive like a Clint Eastwood obsessed gun toting lunatic robbing a Wal-Mart but rather slower paced to add more feeling. The vocals are probably the least interesting aspect of the record but they are far from being bad, they’re just outdone by the guitar players. Helg’s harsh vocals fall somewhat between the prototype dark metal vocal patterns of Sear Bliss and Moonspell. Full of bite and heavy distortion, they nonetheless get the job done without weakening the listening experience. Helg does demonstrate his singing ability on one song, the closing keyboard laden track ’Red Mirrors” . His singing comes off as slightly deep and accented providing a purely mellow, rocking experience to close out the album.
Overall, Mysticism is quite an accomplishment for a modern metal record. Full of creativity, versatile songwriting, and the thundering punch of metal makes this record bound to gather some attention. The productions values of this album are quite expansive for a random obscure metal band from Eastern Europe so I hardly doubt anyone will be complaining about the inaccessibility Mysticism. And to think that I just discovered this band not too long ago, yeah, sue me. I don’t listen to bands for a few weeks before writing. Anyways, if you consider yourself a pretty big fan of Moonspell, Kroda, Moonsorrow, Nokturnal Mortum, and even Graveworm, than I assure you to check it out immediately. If not, it’s your loss BRO!!!!!!!!!!