Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here: Blood of Kingu’s “Dark Star…” Reviewed

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Black metal has easily become one of the ripest sub-genres in all of metaldom. Depending on where you happen to be treading in the twilit kingdom of black metal, you could find yourself traipsing through a gentle mountain wood (à la Agalloch), waging war against infernal enemies alongside an army of effeminate Orlando Bloom look-alikes with pointy ears (with Slechtvalk), locked in a coke-addict’s torture dungeon (as displayed by Spektr), or you could be following Virgil through the fel wastes of the abyss while Blood of Kingu hammer out infernal deathly black music as your soundtrack. Take my hand and walk with me through the nine circles of hell in Blood of Kingu’s newest release, Dark Star on the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon.

Blood of Kingu hail from the far off and tumultuous land of Ukraine, and this nefarious gang has been peddling arcane, death-metal-enhanced black metal since 2005. I was a big fan of the band’s previous effort, Sun in the House of the Scorpion, so when Dark Star popped up for a stream, I instantly seized upon it. What awaited me was a vision of fire and brimstone that is both harrowing and utterly enchanting.

On BoK’s third release, Roman Saenko and co. have eschewed the folky follies of Saenko’s other black metal act Drudkh, in favor of a full-on aural assault. Be forewarned; Dark Star is a demanding listen as wave after wave of molten, crushing tremolo riffs crash over you relentlessly and submerge you into obfuscating pits of darkness. The vocals here are unintelligible, but if you could understand them, you would probably hear Saenko growling like the mouthpiece of Dis about Babylonian (from whence the band draw their name, in addition to the excellent Vader song) and Egyptian mythology. The song titles and vocals are perfectly suited to the eldritch content contained therein.

However, what’s most intriguing about the vocal work here is the intermittent use of Tibetan throat singing that sets this album apart from many other black/death bands. These low, droning emanations produce a shamanic effect in several of the songs, conjuring images of a dark sect of cultists dancing in the moonlight round some flaming totem, invoking horrors unseen. These chants are a welcome and engaging addition that submerse the listener beneath the waves of crashing tremolo and draw you ever deeper into the abyssal landscapes in a ritualistic trance.

There is a lot to like about this album. The trem/blast combo is both exhausting and engaging, bringing the heaviness in spades. The vocal work, including both the growls and the chants, hang in the mix like some demoniacal ignis fatuus, creating the perfect nocturnal atmosphere. I think the mix and production on this album are perfect for baptizing you in the river Acheron, with no one effect dominating the mix while maintaining a good balance of murk and clarity. Plus, the album is not overly long (unlike some other recent black metal releases), only dragging you through the furnace for a brief period (and even offering you a slight respite along the broken path).

That said, my one complaint about this album is that some may not find enough diversity here. To my ears, the songs blend together to create a macabre tapestry, but it is hard to pick one stand-out track. Others may also find the endless tremolo/blast assault daunting, but to them I say, “Toughen up, Buttercup.” I dig this expedition through the abyss, and you should too.

NO FLUSH

You can stream the album at a number of locations, but it officially drops September 2nd. Pre-order it here.

(Photo VIA)

  • Scrimm

    I’m buying this.

    • W.

      I did too!

      • Stockhausen

        You did buying this?

        • W.

          I did boughten it.

          • Stockhausen

            Buyed ams to you being, good!

            We sound like Charlie writes.

          • W.

            Do you think they’ve got a pirate in there?

          • Stockhausen

            Probably, and he’s making stuff out of wood.

  • Randall Thor

    Great write up, listening now. Let it be noted that the artwork on spotify is different and overwhelmingly gorgeous. Maybe sharing it here will kind of display it?

    http://open.spotify.com/album/6KkUo4fNijJE31QhUbwxcb

    • Not sure if it’s a problem with my mobile, but the artwork that link is showing is actually that of Nightbringer’s upcoming album.

      • W.

        That’s what it has on desktop too. Pretty funny mistake.

      • Randall Thor

        You are 100% correct. Can they just share?

  • Tyree

    EY! There is the full flush. This is sounding really good so far, I saw you Dubya talking about this release but did not have a chance to listen to it. Those vocals are really haunting and spacey which I crave and those drums keep on keepin on. This is sounding very promising, I’m going to listen to this today.

    Thanks Dubya!

    • W.

      You’re welcome dude! I really feel the throat singing adds another layer!

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Is Dubya your real name?

        • Yes. Dubya “W.” Dubs Dotcom

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Hmmm. Do I smell a scent of sarcasm and joking?

          • Never!

          • Metaphysical Anus

            There is bullshit in the air!

          • Excuse me, sir, have you seen my shit? I seem to have lost it somewhere near this comment.

        • W.

          More or less.

          • Tyree

            Sometimes I’m so lazy that I just type Dub you big Dubby.

        • KJM

          Everybody posts under their real name on the internet.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            He posts under W. Don’t he?

          • W.

            The W stands for W.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            ………..first thing i thought of when i read dark star.

  • Gorgasm

    Throat singing?!?!?!? Insta-fucking-buy!!!

    Also quick thought, is anyone going to review a shit album? There needs to be at least a handful of bad reviews to stay “unbiased” or whatever….I mean if no one else will or wants to, I can do an informal “write up” on all the hot radio garbage that gets released.

    EDIT: You guys could even do like a vote of what shitty album I will be forced to listen to. Kind of like a fun torture chamber type deal. Try and break my spirit with butt rock and medio-core.

    • W.

      Be the change you want to see in the toilet.

      • *Eat the change you want to see in the toilet.

        Geddit?

        • W.

          I’m catching what you’re pitching.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Spare some change?

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        just thought i would congratulate on your washington think tank article. My beard grew out trying to read all the comments. Seriously though, i think that is the longest thread ever on the toilet.

        • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

          ………

          • Lord Ov Kapsko

            Same here…

        • Scrimm

          It was a good read too, for several reasons. So was this weeks toilet Tuesday.

          • W.

            Appreciate it.

        • 500+ comments in a day. i’d like to see other sites do that. it just goes to show the Toilet’s sense of community and respect!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            It was impressive. I’d like to see the Site that shall not be named have that many comments.

          • W.

            I think they’ve hit that many before, but it’s pretty rare.

        • W.

          Thanks, dude. I really didn’t expect that much traffic on it! A nod from Conan means the world to me.

    • Tyree

      Dubya reviewed the new In Flames album earlier today.

      See in comment section.
      http://www.toiletovhell.com/review-code-orange-i-am-king/

      • Gorgasm

        Will there be an official write up? If not, could this be my first target? Granted it may take a few listens and time to write, seeing as I haven’t written shit since high school.

        • W.

          Go for it, dude!

          • Gorgasm

            Alrighty then, my flushin’ finger is getting twitchy.

          • W.

            When you’re finished, send it to the site email. I’ll edit it.

        • it’d be funny if in listening to the album a few times, you grow to like it, and it ends up getting a decent score.

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            ………..

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan

            I’ve listen to it 5 times and it never gets old. It’s so good that I can’t ever see myself hating it.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        Don’t remind me. I’m the only person who defends that album.

    • Ferris Mueller

      I’d like to see a subsection where users can post reviews of albums to establish a metascore. Similar to the old blabbermouth style.

      • W.

        That’s a really interesting idea.

    • Sponge Of Mystery

      I like that idea, but i’d also want some reviews of bad “metal” albums, like the Chelsea Grin review that was posted here in the sites first week. That review was hilarious lol

      • Gorgasm

        That’s kind of what I meant. Although my vocab isn’t as extensive and flowing as MSD, but i’ll do my best to throw in some dick and poop jokes.

        EDIT: Also a fair warning that there may be alot of analogies and/or metaphors. I love those.

        • Janitor Jim Dvggan

          I have the same writing style, but with more vocabulary. I would love to review a crappy metal album as long as it isn’t the new In Flames album.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan

      I say review a nu metal album, preferably the one Mushroomhead did this year or the one Powerman 5000 did in May. I enjoyed them but I’m sure most metal lovers did not. If you don’t want to do that review the new Emmure or Emarosa albums. Emarosa is a risecore band who has been around for some time that sucks.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      I dunno, I kind of like the policy No Clean Singing has about not doing bad reviews. That in itself can say a lot about a band/album. If it’s not worth their review, it’s probably a bad album.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I think it would be hilarious to review a bad album here. I could see it going very well.

        • Pagliacci is Kvlt

          I’m sure it would. There’s trade-offs though. On one hand NCS will NEVER have the community we have, on the other hand we might not get the respect NCS has. Granted, I can think of quite a few bands whose general douchebaggery earns them a bad review, deservingly. But I’d hate to see our collective might turned on a band that works hard, loves what they do, are decent people, but at best just happen to make music we don’t like or, at worst, just manage to suck.

          • W.

            I think our general purpose is just to ignore most of the crap that gets released in favor of promoting good bands.

  • Randall Thor

    I’ve learned that what you consider “exhausting” or “challenging” translates to “pure joy” to my ears.

    • W.

      Those aren’t necessarily bad qualities. I think metal should be challenging.

      • Stockhausen

        One of the best truths that is most unfortunately lost on popular music culture is that it’s ok to have to work at liking music.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmm. I like it. +1 point for the former president.

    • W.

      Thank you, Anus.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Hey, that’s our word! You have no right to use that word!

  • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

    def digging the vox on this…are there other BM bands using this style that I should know about?

    • W.

      I haven’t found any yet. The throat singing really stood out to me.

      • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

        I’m only using half decent headphones to listen, but I really like the production values on this too. It’s eerily haunting.

        • W.

          The production works really well

    • Tyree

      There are plenty out there. I should do a post on this topic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7-diJMQ0CE

      • W.

        I’d read that!

      • Metaphysical Anus

        You’re a nice guy for doing this.

      • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

        I should make a “war metal 101” maybe turn “black metal 101” into an off and on series

        • Tyree

          Yes dude!

          • The Satan Ov Nvklear Hell

            I’ll get in touch with Joe over the next few weeks

    • Tyree
    • Tyree
      • W.

        Tyree ftw!

        • Tyree

          I don’t want to hog this post up with videos.

          • Yeah…it might lead to the disabling of embedding!

          • Tyree

            Bad memories man.

          • Jöhnny Crünch™

            aka the start of the revolution

      • CÖÄL RÖLL FRÖM THE TÖILET BÖWL

        TYVM TYREE!

      • Simon Phoenix

        Y U NO RELEASE NEW ALBUM ALREADY GENOCIDE SHRINES?

        • Tyree

          Seriously, what is the hold up!?!

  • Metaphysical Anus

    Oh shit, these guys are from Ukraine? Putler is everywhere!

  • Ferris Mueller

    +1 for more Tibetan throat singing in metal intros

  • Howard Dean

    Nice job, Dubya! Thank you for reviewing this. I’m admittedly more familiar with the awesomeness that is Drudkh. This stuff is really good. Will certainly investigate further and maybe purchase this old girl.

    • W.

      It’s only $17 including shipping if you order off bandcamp.
      Edit: That’s the physical media, which I know you love.

      • Howard Dean

        Thanks! Byah!

  • Occams_Razor_Ramon

    This album is so damn good. Between this and the new Yob today has been a tasty day for music