There is no one way to play black metal, and people who act like there’s a formula that must be followed must have lost their sense of freedom and rebellion a long time ago. At least to me, the most interesting black metal bands are the ones that try new things, take different paths, and bend traditional sounds to meet their own fire.
One such band is Vancouver, Canada’s Kafirun, a savage yet thought-provoking group that certainly is black metal at its core, but they do so much more than just follow patterns. Their transmissions are dark and dreary, they can send chills up your spine with their ominous ways, and they certainly have mapped their own unique code into black metal’s constantly evolving DNA. Making thunderous noise on their debut EP “Death Worship” that dropped just last year after this hellacious band formed. From there, they continued to build on their chaotic sound and kept pushing forward their vision, which we get to hear in fully realized form on their crushing new EP “Glorification of Holy Death.” It’s five tracks of black metal that is delivered anything but by the numbers and that will haunt your every move when you indulge in this thing.
The band itself is made up of four mysteriously named individuals, and finding out any more about these shadows beyond what they’ve let leak out is pointless. But that kind of adds more intrigue to the fury that Kafirun create on this record, and the band—vocalist Luzifaust, guitarist Hanephi, drummer Corpus Vile, and bassist Hypnocrotizer—keeps your mind wondering, your blood surging, and your sense of terror on high as they weave their murky tales. If you’re a fan of bands such as Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Funeral Mist, Thantifaxath, and others of that ilk, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this still relatively new band.
Things get off to a strange start on “Wings of Malevolence,” as clean guitars trickle and create an odd environment, as things head into spacious atmosphere and snaking melodies. The vocals swim in the chaos, changing up from growls to shrieks to detached wails, while the band creates a swirling vortex of madness behind all of that, hammering in the punishment. “Salvation Through Sin” has colorful storming at the start, like stars and fire raining down from the sky, only to have the vocals turn gruff and the track take a dip into a trance. The singing then dissolves into droning murmurs, while the band churns ahead and lets all the elements boil over as everything comes to an abrupt finish.
“Destruction of the Divine Self” chugs and thrashes at the start, getting vicious and violent, with the tempo burning brightly. The vocals are delivered as harsh shrieks, with the melodies sounding chock full of mournful sentiment, and then things taking a turn for the strange. Again. The vocals transform into a buzzing underneath the canopy of terror, and the final moments ignite an oil drum of black riffs. “Chaos Magnum Opus” tears open from the start, with the band pummeling you heavily, and haunting melodies making their way into the mixture. The bulk of this song is aggressive and mashing, but there always are unexpected twists and turns that pop up along the way before the song ends suddenly. Closer “Open Veins” has an air-infused start, as the band drags you into the stratosphere, where you feel yourself losing control of your health. The vocals sound like fuzz and droning, like they’re gurgling in the back of Luzifaust’s throat, before the singing turns into pained, tortured wailing. There’s no way to be unaffected by that, and when the music makes more changes and even permits slicks of brightness into the picture, it’s always leading to another suffocation, which they perpetrate as the track and this thrilling collection come to a thunderous conclusion.
Kafirun are not on the tip of people’s tongues quite yet, and with just a year or so under their bloody belts, they have plenty of time to get there. More music like what’s contained on “Glorification of Holy Death” is sure to open more hungry ears and to help them worm their way into the earthier sections of the metal underground. The fact that they do things a little differently will help the stand out as well as find devotees who want their black metal a little more warped than usual.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kafirun/162223553976809
To buy the album, go here: https://kafirun.bandcamp.com/album/glorification-of-holy-death