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Album Review

Some black metal and death metal bands fly so far under the radar (at least outside of black metal/death metal circles) that they can reach their tenth or 12th anniversary and still hear the question, "Is this a new band?" When Candlelight distributed Armada in the United States in 2006, some American headbangers asked that question in relation to Keep of Kalessin. But no, Kalessin is not a new band; they have been around since 1994, and this 49-minute CD demonstrates that the Norwegian black metal outfit is worth getting to know. Although not groundbreaking or terribly original, Kalessin provides noteworthy black metal with a strong thrash influence. Clearly, Armada is mindful of black metal's punk, thrash, and hardcore heritage, and this album favors a rawness and a toughness that acknowledges black metal's humble beginnings. But Armada is not a carbon copy of early black metal; Kalessin is more polished, although not polished to the point of being symphonic black metal. Armada achieves a balance; Kalessin's performances are punkier and more "street" than those of a symphonic black metal band, but this album is chops-minded (there is no doubt that these guys can play their instruments well) and relatively melodic. Although not as elaborate as symphonic black metal recordings, Armada is far from an exercise in bombast for the sake of bombast. Kalessin, like so many extreme metal bands, has had their share of personnel changes along the way; here the lineup includes founder/guitarist Obsidian Claw (of Satyricon fame), lead singer Thebon, bassist Wizziac, and drummer Vyl, and this lineup has delivered an album that, although not quite a five-star masterpiece, is still a decent and well-executed footnote in the Nordic black metal scene.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

During their first incarnation, Norway's Keep of Kalessin were comprised of vocalist Ghâsh, guitarist/keyboardist Obsidian C., bassist Warach, and drummer Vyl, and released a pair of quite competent -- but also rather typical -- Scandinavian black metal albums in 1997's Through Times of War and 1999's Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark. Neither LP made much of an impact outside the extreme metal scene itself, and so the bandmembers went their separate ways, as Obsidian C. (real name Arnt Grønbech)...
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Armada, Keep of Kalessin
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