Review Summary: 'The Craving' is an example of a band making something unique that works, making something that is memorable, and most of all, making something that is just a grand piece of work.
Kenos is not a name that many will recognise here (if any), which is a shame, because not only is the music on display here good, it also has enough originality to make it stand out above most other death metal acts. Music can give off a lot of different atmospheres and emotions, and Kenos play off this very well, keeping their sound heavy but injecting just enough melody at the right moments to give the music a wonderful and emotional atmosphere contrasted by the bleakness of the lyrics and overall song structures.
While the songs are heavy, they are still memorable, whether this is down to the great melodies or the impressive song structures I cannot say, but when you have music that can stay in your mind, but not in an annoying way, who really cares, while Kenos may not be the most technically proficient band (though they are still very good) what can gives them the edge over other technical/progressive death metal bands is their indisputable ability to give each song they make memorable and excel in it's own different way. Be it the gothic rock anthem 'The Icon', the emotionally driven melodic death metal 'Cassandra's Tale', or even the aggressive and brutal yet catchy sound of 'Majestic Persecution'. There is something here for every metal fan, but their is something strangely accessible about them, and that is one of the key features which should hopefully make them a huge band in the future. There are thrashy elements on 'Mutant Creation', emotional prog elements on the 'Aries' tracks and catchy melodic rock on the aforementioned brilliance of 'Cassandra's Tale'. Kenos' style can never be narrowed down at any specific moment in this album, instead, their music can be described as progressive death metal, for what they bring is dominantly death metal based, but with so many influences of other styles that they never get boring. Ever.
Alongside their impressive song-writing talents they also boast considerable technical skill. While by no means as good as a technical death metal band, they excel at grand solo's, epic riffs and skillful sweeps (though they are very, very rare), it helps give the album yet another edge, if they needed another! The drumming is excellent throughout, keeping up with the frantic pace of the guitarists, including blast-beats, furious foot work and slow rocking power, but the bass is hardly anywhere to be heard. The vocals on the other hand, are far from perfect, to put it simply, they are inconsistent. The clean vocals are fine, and fit the music perfectly, not very melodic by any stretch of the imagination, but they are mostly introduced in the faster parts when they don't need to be melodic, instead suiting the style of the sound (except in the ballad 'The Icon', where they are much more melodic than any other place on the album). What I find myself disliking at points though, are some of his screams, or should I call them croaks" Maybe that was a bit harsh, but I hate croaked vocals almost as much as I hate pig squeals, and this vocalist has an annoying habit of breaking into a croak at points, though fortunately, he refrains most of the time, sometimes they are very obvious. There are high points to the vocals, for example, the underused growl is very good in songs like 'Majestic Persecution' where it trades off with the scream (probably one of the best moments on the album!), there are also several very good screams from the vocalist, when his voice allows him to.
Thankfully, the music more than makes up for some of the singer's errors, the carving of melody with the sheer aggression makes this album simply exceptional at the right moments. And songs like 'Teaben Rising' have so many changes and little shifts in the direction of the music that you can't help but sit up and take notice. If I were to pick out a stand out track though, it would be a split between 'Cassandra's Tale' and 'The Icon', both of which show off the band's more melodic side excellently, with the first being much like a Jester Race era In Flames
song, except with Kenos' own very different twist. 'The Icon' on the other hand, is nothing like any other songs on the album, featuring 80's style keyboards, gothic rock vocals, a huge chorus and fantasticly memorable lyrics.
Kenos stick to their strengths well, and the brief moments that they go out of their own style ('Who.Is.Key' being the most obvious) they still manage to pull it off admirably, but the key thing is, they keep the same atmosphere throughout the entire album, bleak, heavy, almost apocalyptic, it keeps the album from being disjointed, where a lesser band might not have managed to keep so many different influences in their sound without being completely bowled over by them. Despite the tempo changes, the melody injections, the inconsistent vocals, the varying styles, despite everything, they manage to keep the album accessible, and easy to listen to. That is a grand feat, and one that many, many bands can only dream of doing, it's just one of those things that happens, not what can simply be made.
'The Craving' is an example of a band making something unique that works, making something that is memorable, and most of all, making something that is just a grand piece of work. Their understanding of melody is exceptional, yet they are so much more than just a melodic death metal band, they are something different, they are Kenos.