Might and Majesty: A Review of Keep of Kalessin’s Epistemology

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Epic. The word has become commonplace in our everyday parlance. When even the most mundane and banal works are attributed this term, is it still appropriate to use it to describe pieces of art that strive for loftier heights? If Keep of Kalessin‘s Epistemology is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

In its original sense, an epic was a national tale of heroism intended to transcribe a rich oral tradition and relate the most esteemed virtues of a culture. Beowulf tells the saga of the titular warrior-king who inspires his men to heroism and unrivaled bravery. The Epic of Gilgamesh told of a valorous antediluvian king who risked all to achieve wisdom. These two values, courage and wisdom, much like the other traits of man’s heroes woven throughout the fabric of our greatest oral traditions, are deeply intertwined into the essence of Epistemology, and the end product is an epic unto itself, rich in valor and grand in design.

Keep of Kalessin have always been a band I have admired. This is the group that is largely responsible for granting me access to the esoteric world of black metal. This is a band that has written timeless songs of immense scope. This is a band that has always hinted at something greater, at the transcendent virtues to which we all strive, but up until now, the music has only granted us glimpses of that grandeur. Armada was an exercise in the endurance necessary to withstand the rigors of existence. Kolossus was written with the hope of ascendance. Reptilian explored the arcane wisdom of beyond. However, each album up to now, although excellent in its own right, fell short of the full majesty of which this band is capable. But the shackles have been broken, and Keep of Kalessin has finally told the story they always wanted to tell, a story of might and majesty.

keep_of_kalessin___epistemology_by_mippieart-d83etri

And what a story it is! Epistemology is huge. Each track is a righteous and winding path of tremolo riffs and duels between major and minor chords that ascend over soaring peaks and descend through breathtaking valleys. Equally immense vocals compliment the precise riffs. Powerful verses lead to even mightier choruses that set the heart aflame as extreme and clean vocal efforts interplay and divide and conquer. I can’t remember the last time I heard an album that left me feeling so empowered! Each of the long tracks, from the blistering “Dark Divinity” to the monolithic “The Grand Design” is an epic tale unto itself, distinct and yet somehow familiar, revealing another splendid fragment of a much larger and greater portrait. All throughout, the arcing riffs and rising vocals are anchored by an unrelenting rhythm section. At times I can’t believe that drummer Vegar “Vyl” Larsen is capable of maintaining such a blasting, inhuman barrage, but both the bass and the drums race along, providing a terrestrial tether for Obsidian C’s beckoning vocals.

I think it is important to note that Obsidian C’s front work is a huge component of what makes this album so appealing and inspiring. It seems that after Thebon’s departure, the band took stock of itself and focused on perfecting its already copious strengths. As a three-piece, this band sounds more in command and stronger than ever, injecting every song with nuance, subtlety, and hints of the sublime. This sort of confident songcraft could only be possible through a self-assurance born of the knowledge of one’s own abilities, and, dare I say, knowledge. Epistemology is a fitting title indeed.

Black metal fans seeking grit, filth, or depressive tones will likely be disappointed in this album. The songs here are uplifting and heroic. The chords are ascendant and sprawling. Although aspects of this album are still extreme, there is beauty and resplendence throughout. This album will enable your spirit to rise above the corporeal and pass beyond the trappings of pain and sorrow. This is an anthemic and empowering listen from start to finish, and I can find little fault with it.

NO FLUSH

Epistemology is already out via Nuclear Blast, so if you’re a fan of the band, melodic black metal acts like Borknagar, or spirited and soulful music, be sure not to pass it by. This is easily the best album the band has written. Keep of Kalessin have truly come into their own and have crafted something that can only be described as epic.

Check out Metal Hammer for the full album stream. Be sure to pick up the album from band’s web store. Like them on Facebook.

(Photos VIA and VIA)

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  • NICE KOK review

  • Scrimm

    I’ll give it a shot cause W. I’ve owned a couple albums that were decent but they never quite did it for me.

    • VVayne Brady

      It’s pretty bombastic and soaring. Not very raw, but still heavy.

      • Scrimm

        That is cool with me. I trust your opinion, Don’t think you’ve steered me wrong yet.

        • Guacamole Jim

          In W. we trust.

          • Scrimm

            A large portion of our musical tastes seem to match up well.

          • VVayne Brady

            I like a lot of different genres and styles, so I tend to overlap with a lot of you dudes 🙂

          • that’s why I can share so much love, too.

        • KJM

          It’s not my thing but it’s still very well done.

      • Scrimm

        That song above is pretty damn good. You like that try this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3uv_mrCSXY

        • VVayne Brady

          I can dig this.

          • Scrimm

            That;s a great album, as is the one after. It doesn’t hurt that most of their lyrical content deals with my favorite books.

          • VVayne Brady

            I’m going to look into them.

          • Scrimm

            They’ve got a new 5 track demo on bandcamp for NYP.

      • the drumming is NUTS!

        • VVayne Brady

          Yah, I couldn’t believe it.

        • Scrimm

          NUTS>>>>>

          • Lacertilian

            ZONGO!

    • Reposted Avenged Sevenfold Fan

      They most defiantly look 1000000 times sexier than everyone else ;D
      I’m in 8th grade, and I’m not anywhere near illiterate.

      -Lauren Cheerio, 1 year ago, in reply to brettpooped

  • W,

    Dark Divinity is crushing! Thanks and great write up.

    GL

    • VVayne Brady

      Thanks, GL!

      • Dude, the production is perfect. The “wow factor” of this song is 11/10!

        GL

        • VVayne Brady

          They’ve always hinted at greatness, but I was blown away by how HUGE this album sounds.

          • It is interesting how difficult it is to be “wowed” by new music (for me, at the moment), but that track just blew my doors clean off! I know you recommended them to me awhile back – but I never kept up with the them. Thanks again

            GL

  • Guacamole Jim

    The only thing better than this review is the album itself. If you haven’t yet checked this out, GET ON THAT SHIT. Keep of Kalessin have seriously upped the ante.

  • NefariousDude

    Excited to check this out

    • VVayne Brady

      I hope you enjoy!

      • NefariousDude

        I’ve been dipping my toes in the pool of black metal lately now that I’ve got spotify premium. This sounds right up my alley

        • VVayne Brady

          They were my gateway band. Kolossus is a bit more raw and acts as a good jumping point.

  • Wow. That track is fantastic.
    I fux with this.

  • NefariousDude

    Also very excited for a7x repost account and what’s to come. You’ve got a bright future ahead of you kid

    • His/her gimmick is quite promising!

      GL

      • Lacertilian

        While there would be a goldmine in terms of content, I’d hate to have to sift through those comments sections in order to garner a collection

        • I have a feeling that he makes them up on the fly….. But maybe!

          GL

    • Reposted Avenged Sevenfold Fan

      dude i love avenged sevenfold because the band members,and plus i love all there songs they sing

      – DAKOTA JOHNSON on November 30, 2011

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Definitely going to check this whole album out; I was a bit turned off by Kolossus and wasn’t really interested in the OMG DRAG0NZ of Reptilian, but Dark Divinity sounds superbadasscool.

  • VVayne Brady

    Remember to follow that Metal Hammer (lol) link and stream the whole thing. It’s also up on Spotify!

    • I just now got around to reading your review (sorrydoingallkindsofothershit) and had to check it out on Spotify. It is really good. Thanks for the review.

      • VVayne Brady

        I’m just glad you enjoyed it!

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    “Eh, this is just alright.”

    – Some idiot

    • “Eh this is just too tight”
      -Mr Bojangles

      • CyberneticOrganism

        “Eh, someone hit the lights.”
        – A Table

      • Scrimm

        DUDE I can’t remember where I found it this morning but there was a thread on a non music related site(I think it had something to do with Trayvon Martin) and there was a Mr Bojangles on there posting some kinda rascist sounding stuff.

        • VVayne Brady

          Probably the same guy.

          • Scrimm

            Mybe a different Bojangles? I dunno I’m having trouble finding it.

        • Whoa really?

          • Scrimm

            Yes. I’m looking.

        • #BojangleGateExposed

          GL

          • Scrimm

            I gotta try and find it. I meant to post and forgot all about it.

          • Is it not in your history??

            GL

          • Scrimm

            Slaps self in face for being so stupid

          • his Disqus might be private. i can’t find him in my “following” list…

          • Scrimm

            I’m looking in my pc history for the page. Might take a while to sift through all the porn sites….

          • Stockhausen

            We need the use of the suffix “-gate” to become scandal in itself, so we can have Gategate 2015. #neverforget

          • Solid Logic!

          • #leaveGategateAlone! #linkleonhart

          • T_T

          • Paris Hilton

            I don’t see why metal gate was such a big deal. Wooden gates are not only cheaper and just as effective for residential property, but are also more aesthetically pleasing than metal gates. Painting wooden gates is cheaper and easier, as well.

          • more beer

            But a good wrought iron gate will impale someone trying to jump it if they are not very careful.

          • Stockhausen

            Wood gates are s smart choice. A good wrought iron gate is pretty rad though, like more beer said. I think this argument is going to reach #gategate levels.

          • Lacertilian

            Just watched an episode of That Mitchell & Webb look the other day from 2006 where they did a sketch on Watergategate

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB9JgxhXW5w

          • Scrimm

            Dammit I can’t seem to find it. I swear it was there though.

        • coulda been his epic trolling skills at work

          • Scrimm

            One would hope.

          • XBILEBEARDX

            Dis really is a sjw blog now

          • told u

        • Lacertilian

          There was a @disqus_kqxyUNPxty:disqus impostor getting around in the wasteland (FFB) the other day, I had hoped it would be someone from here but it doesn’t appear so.

  • excellent write-up, VV. i need to give this more of a chance. currently rawking out to The Grand Design! it’s stapling my nuts to my leg…

    • esta muy bien!

      Jorge Lynch

    • VVayne Brady

      The Grand Design is probably my favorite track on the album.

    • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

      This album is awesome, isnt it? I love it.

      • yeah, it’s reviews like these that get me to revisit an album that i might not have normally done so.
        there’s a lot of variety in the song structures as well, really keeps the listener engaged

        • VVayne Brady

          This compliment means a lot to me. It’s one thing to write about an album, but if I can convince someone else to get excited about it, I’ve doen my job.

        • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

          It’s surely going to ge on my top 10 near the top.

    • Stockhausen

      OUCHIE.

  • XBILEBEARDX

    I rly like KoK (lololol)

    • XBILEBEARDX

      Semi related, took a pic last night during the snow that might as well be a BM album cover

      • Can you post it?

        GL

      • last night i made quick work of The Last Giant. look out, rest of the game!!

        • XBILEBEARDX

          if you’re already past the Last Giant, then you should have your soapstone. Why hasn’t we played?

          • i do have that! i just need to defeat that pesky Pursuer and we’ll have a go.

          • STANKBEARD

            You can do all those with summons

  • Edward/Breegrodamus

    I knew this was a Dubya review just from glancing at the title!

    • VVayne Brady

      Thanks?

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        Yeah – it’s a good thing.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        Nice review by the way.

        • VVayne Brady

          thonx beb

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Makes it sound like the sort of thing that would be good background music to an RPG, which is precisely what I was planning anyways…

    • shots fired?

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        No need to violence Jimmy.

        • Stockhausen

          WHOA DUDE, CALM DOWN. EVERYONE JUST CALM DOWN.

  • Serious non black metal fan question- do these guys paint their faces and run around with swords? The album cover and review suggest otherwise.

  • Good record, awesome review. Thanks, Dubidub!

  • Stockhausen

    I saw these guys live with Hate and Behlphagor, and they stole the show. Hate was awesome, and Belphagor was definitely there.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
    • Stockhausen

      This song RIPS.

      • It is frantic as hell!

        GL

        • my 50 y/o coworker is listening to a limp bizkit song.
          *flushes self*

          • I feel dirty just reading their name.

          • Scrimm

            Kill him. Srs.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            Throw him out the window. I am so sorry for him but it it must be done.

          • Tell him the Family Values tour ended over 10 years ago and so did his 40’s.

  • Paris Hilton

    The word epic will never be over-used. Especially when the word is used to describe le epic beards and le epic bacon!

  • KJM

    Enjoying this online radio station a lot.

    http://stonedmeadowofdoom.playtheradio.com/

  • Nordling Writes ov USBM

    I liked this album. It may not be KoK’s best but it is awesome.

  • Dagon

    That was an amazing review. Guess I’ll have to listen to the album after all…

  • Simon “Djentcrusher” Phoenix

    Reptilian was okay, but pales in comparison to the albums that came before it. I’m sure this record is better. I’ll stream it later today.

    Great review, Dubs.

  • Warheart

    It’s good. Far better than Reptile, but not as great as Armada.

    • VVayne Brady

      Interesting. I think this album has taken first for me with Kolossus at second.