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Khaotika - "The Flame Unleashed" (CD)

Khaotika - "The Flame Unleashed" CD cover image

"The Flame Unleashed" track listing:

1. Her Vengeance
2. Excidium
3. Hollow Grounds
4. Sulphur Road
5. Mantra
6. In Khaos We Trust
7. The Final War
8. Bleed For Me
9. Black Moon Lilith
10. Heretik Within
11. In The Shade Ov Night

Reviewed by on December 3, 2015

"Triumphant over brutal and life threatening injuries to vocalist Lariyah and guitarist Balor, the band dug deep and lashed out with a promising and emotionally driven record worthy of any metal collection."

It could very well be one of the most victorious stories of perseverance and overcoming the greatest of obstacles….one of those stories worthy of books and front page headlines. Only for Khaotika it was a story of a local Atlanta band who hit hard times when an unlikely and fatal accident took the lives of three young musicians: drummer Dyret and two members of Wormreich. It was a tour that started with hope and promise and ended in disaster, the cause of which still has yet to be determined.

However, determination and sheer will to live and create music was the sole inspiration to what would become “The Flame Unleashed” – the debut album from this young and fierce melodic black metal band. Triumphant over brutal and life threatening injuries to vocalist Lariyah and guitarist Balor, the band dug deep and lashed out with a promising and emotionally driven record worthy of any metal collection.

Where “The Flame Unleashed” succeeds is not in the band’s chosen ideology, much of which is grounded in the earthly undertones of “true satanism.” Much like the legendary King Diamond, the members of Khaotika believe what they wish, but choose to play music and entertain the listener rather than preach and convert. It succeeds in its winning combination of melodic black metal – remaining true to the black metal core, but branching out to those seeking more than a frosty barrage of “khaotic” noise normally associated with the “pure and trve” black metal. It rings forth with the heavy influence of “Hammerheart”/“Twilight of the Gods” era Bathory (check out the intensely inspired “Black Moon Lilith”), especially in the guitar tone.

Surg and Balor make an amazingly talented guitar team, flashing crunchy riffs and brilliant solos not normally found in black metal. Lariyah’s vocals are stunningly haunting. While she is no stranger to occasionally “blackening” it with serrated edges, it primarily keeps to a clean and eerie beautiful when juxtaposed with Balor’s crisp and well annunciated growls. Given how the accident affected her life and career, you can literally feel the emotion in her performance. Strom takes Dyret’s mantle on the drums and shows off a brilliant wall of intensity. There is little doubt that the band spilled blood, heart and soul into this album, so critiques can truly only come from lack of interest in the style.

The combination works on so many of the album’s 11 tracks, most notably “Her Vengeance,” “In the Shade Ov Night” and the album’s most lethal number - “The Final War,” which displays every aspect of the what Khaotika has to offer in 6:37. For the black metal purist, “In Khaos We Trust” is your most pvre and trve! Now, This isn’t to say that the band’s black metal backbone doesn’t succumb to the all-too familiar blistering haze that often taps out some critics of the subgenre. There are a whole bunch of moments throughout the release where the listener is lulled into submission by waves of snow driven fog, much in the way many other straight up black metal acts do. However, there is so much more at work here to please fans of multiple subgenres.

In terms of overall sound, the work done by Scott Prian and Paul Golden, as well as the mastering at Necormorbus Studio in Sweden, conveys precisely what Khaotika is trying to get across musically. While it retains that raw blackness found in “trve” black metal, it adds a modern touch of clarity to smooth out the rough edges, making it one of the best sounding black metal style records – ranking right up with the likes of the mighty Thulcandra.

“The Flame Unleashed” is an incredibly inspired release for fans of Bathory with the added dose of early symphonic gothic styles of bands like Theater of Tragedy. The combination wins on many levels, even if you aren’t drawn in by the incredible back story of resilience and perseverance. The sound is perfect for the band’s style, image and haunting beauty. It retains all the aspects of a black metal spine with the modern touches of melody and symphonic mastery. While there are the lulls of haze that come with the black metal side of things, Khaotika offers so much more for a variety of listeners.

Highs: A black metal release with plenty of symphonic melody and delicious riffs.

Lows: As the case with many black metal acts, that wall of haze can lull listeners into submission.

Bottom line: In the face of sheer adveristy, Khaotika unleashes its debut flame across the metal universe with trve vengeance!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)