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Keep Of Kalessin - "Epistemology" (CD)

Keep Of Kalessin - "Epistemology" CD cover image

"Epistemology" track listing:

1. Cosmic Revelation
2. The Spiritual Relief
3. Dark Divinity
4. The Grand Design
5. Necropolis
6. Universal Core
8. Epistemology

Reviewed by on February 23, 2015

"...most die hard black metal fans look for a rawness in sound that Keep of Kalessin simply doesn’t have."

“Epistemology” represents the ongoing argument of what constitutes black metal. There is plenty here that says this is a black metal album and Keep of Kalessin is a black metal band. Just listen to Obsidian Claw’s raspy shrieks or Vyl’s thunderous drums. Even the choir keys lend the album a sense of mysticism heard by other black metal groups such as Emperor and Abigor. However, most die hard black metal fans look for a rawness in sound that Keep of Kalessin simply doesn’t have. “Epistemology” is very clean in sound. The guitars, drums and even sung vocals represent a melodic take on the genre that many refuse to acknowledge.

Fans of Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved should find “Epistemology” appealing, at least partly. There is an epic quality in the length of each song and Obsidian Claw’s clean vocals. His voice is similar to Dimmu alum I.C.S. Vortex and his best clean vocal work is during the first proper track “The Spiritual Relief” and the last track “Epistemology.” He layers his voice to achieve a fullness of sound. Also, there are palm muted riffs and sustained notes on the guitar that make “The Spiritual Relief” an interesting listen.

“Dark Divinity” has twisty notes that catch the ear as do some of the harmonies, and the drums are decent throughout the album. Once the symphonic keys are whipped away, “The Grand Design” functions through one big drum roll. “Universal Core” also contains some monstrous blast beats.

There is an Eastern sort of mysticism that surrounds the album, like the guitar harmony running through “Necropolis” that lends an air of Eastern mysticism. “Dark Divinity” also contains engaging guitar harmonies. The title track features an interesting guitar solo/melody that gives the track a good dynamic.

There is plenty of ear candy on “Epistemology” for those who enjoy the softer side of black metal. I personally prefer symphonic and melodic black metal to the rawer side. This does not mean “Epistemology” is a good album overall, however. It falls more in the range of mediocre. The guitars are thin and lack power. While one of the selling points for the album is how epic it is, it’s also the album’s downfall. There aren’t enough parts in each song to carry their seven or even nine minute lengths. These parts are interesting at first but become boring upon repetition. “Epistemology” is worth grabbing, but do so only after picking up “Through Times of War,” which is a Norwegian black metal classic that’s melodic and menacing at the same time.

Highs: The album is filled with rich melodies.

Lows: Songs are too long and become boring.

Bottom line: A mediocre black metal album with good points but also serious flaws.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)