With an itch requiring scratching I recently picked out a few records by bands Ive yet to hear in a guide to Black Metal list that fortunately didn't focus on the classics I know inside out. It shone its light on overlooked and underrated albums from lesser known bands. Armada keenly caught my attention in comparison with Emperor's classic Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. Interestingly enough Keep Of Kalessin, who Id never heard of before, were active in Norway during the scenes formation years but due wavering commitments of drummer Larsen, who was touring with Satyricon, it took him a decade to settle down and focus on the project as his main ambition, leading to a string of albums of which this was the first released.
Armada's sharp, angular tone of shrill ripping guitars and rigid hellbent drums blasting at dizzying intensity had me initially finding this one hard to get into. As with this genre more than any other, repetition is key! The old lesson of familiarity, letting the music blossom, however Vengeance Rising will always test my boundaries with its utterly ridiculous and inhuman blast beat that pushes tempos as hard as they can go. The record is full of breezing bursts of pace and eruptions of anger, bearing the hallmarks of blast beats, arriving in common, yet frequently impressive fashion. There is no arguing over Larsens talent, his rapid feet and dexterous arms make for a distinctive flavor.
With his wild rattling barrages of drums at the forefront of much of the music it takes on quite an aggressive attitude, the fast and thrashing guitar work charges at its side with plenty of all out tremolo shredding and technical chugging grooves plucked in between, plunging towards the listener with a racing pace. The antagonizing screams of Isaksen linger in constant menace as burly howls are unleashed with a shrill roughness that's rarely trying to win you over, however the breaks to ancient, cultural, Viking choral chants conjure a lot of atmosphere in comparison, its unfortunately infrequent.
The second track, Crown Of Kings, sets a bar the rest of the record doesn't keep up with. That song has whats missing, progression. Its chaotic opening riffs whirl away through fiery intensity that builds, builds and then importantly gives way. A few minutes in the drum drop to half time and an upbeat baseline ques in a moment to breath as the guitars gleam in a glittery riff. Its the shift in gears that made Emperor's aforementioned effort so fantastic and this record really feels like in needed those breaks, because without them its intensity is unrelenting and that can be burdening. I do think that was the artistic intent here and it is mostly fantastic but a lack of fluid respite in the music made it a little to strong for me.
Favorite Tracks: Crown Of The Kings, Winged Watcher, Deluge, Amada