I appreciate a long-standing institution that isn’t afraid to try new things to keep everything fresh. Case in point: I just saw Rush last night, and they pulled about as unpredictable a set as you’re going get from a band that storied. Great stuff.
Similarly, Candlelight Records could just keep putting out records by its main roster and certainly get by on their history alone, but apparently that doesn’t satisfy them creatively. So they’ve created this Cult Series of releases that injects some fresh new blood into their catalog and keeps their eyes and ears geared toward the future.
Originally, I was going to take the three releases they’re putting out and do one whole entry on them. But the more I listen to each one, the more I realize each record deserves its own entry. So for the rest of this week, we’ll tackle Candlelight’s Cult Series by shedding a light on each release, why they’re important, and how they differ from each other. And trust me, if you pick up these albums by Khors, Wodensthrone, and Reverence, you won’t just be getting a grouping of things that sound exactly alike. Each band has its own ways, its own approaches, and even if they come from the same centerpoint, they get to their destination in unique ways
First up, we’ll look at Ukrainian band Khors, comprised of artists who have been in/are in other notable bands such as Hate Forest, Flying, Tesseract (I know, I know), Ulvegr, Ygg, and many more. The group’s new record “Wisdom of Centuries” is their fifth overall, and follow-up to 2010’s “Return to Abandoned,” and their melodic, flurried, nature-leaning black metal certain should give fodder to listeners who choose to take on their music while walking through forests. It also has a taste of their homeland’s folk stylings, giving you a bit more than just a blast of violence with some nice colorful edges to go along with their metallic servings.
Admittedly, I was a little late to the Khors party, as I didn’t really catch onto the band until “Abandoned” was released in 2010, alongside their “The Flame of Eternity’s Decline/Cold,” a reissue of the group’s first two records. But being that I like the style of ethnic black metal that is these guys’ specialty, the music struck me right away, and I spent a great deal of time playing catch-up to where we are now. “Wisdom of Centuries” just may be their best record yet, and considering it has the force of Candlelight behind it, the album could be the one to make an impact in America with people who dig Drudkh and Negura Bunget.
Khors, who take their name from the Slavic god of sun and light, also have a bit of a cosmic bend to their music, as if they’re fusing the wonders of our planet to what’s beyond. It won’t make you feel like you’re taking an intergalactic head trip or anything, but enough of it’s there to make it seem as if you’re floating with the stars. The band itself is comprised of guitarists/vocalists Jurgis (a newcomer on this record) and Helg, bassist Khorus, and drummer Khaoth, and they do a fine job setting up an atmosphere, adding their brand of storming and keeping things succinct and trim on “Wisdom.” They’re in and out in a little over 38 minutes, proving brevity can accentuate power.
“Through the Clouds of the Past” is an ominous instrumental opener that lets the fog into the room and sets up the ambiance. That allows “Black Forest’s Flaming Eyes” to charge into the room, with its aggressive melodies, windy keyboards, and hand drumming to establish both sonic power and rustic beauty. “The Last Leaves” has more of a classic metal feel, with airy keyboards and … for some reason … a horse whinnying out of nowhere. It’s pretty weird. “Where the Grandeur of Mountains Embraces the Space” manages to get a bit trip-hop, as it wooshes and exhales otherwise, acting as a lead-in to “Horizong Glassy,” another instrumental track that reaches into the cosmos for inspiration and leaves you in a sleepy trance. The title track then erupts, acting fearsome and daring, with some mid-tempo melodies, whispers, a pinch of sludge, and birds cawing to perhaps counteract the horse. I guess. All kidding aside, it’s a muddy little thing that’s really well put together. “The Only Time Will Take It Away” has some of the most pronounced folk sections of the entire record, but it eventually leads into some chaos, cascading, emotional peaks, and a conclusion that really wells up in your eyes and chest. It’s quite affecting. Outro “Twilight” leaves you room to take a deep breath, relax, and consider what you just experienced, and the cool haze in which this is washed makes for exceptional daydream fodder.
Khors deserve to have more recognition and accolades than they have collected so far, as they’re a refreshing, thought-provoking unit. As noted, having Candlelight behind them should help, as should the strength of this exceptional fifth record. Do make a point to check this out if you dig folk-minded black metal, outer space, or aggressive star gazing. You’ll be rewarded heavily for your investment.
For more on the band, go here: http://khors.info/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/