Kathaaria - The Complex Void Of Negativity
End All Life Productions
Progressive Black Metal
7 songs (45:00)
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by James
Surprise of the month

Kathaaria haven't chosen the most original of names, picking a moniker previously used by Striborg man Sin Nanna. However, as that unusual cover art might tell you, they are in fact a fairly interesting proposal musically. While they're not quite the next Enslaved, there is certainly a very progressive element to their sound, particularly in the sheer number of riffs and tempo changes. While they're not a direct influence, there's something very similar to Opeth in the way the riffs slot together perfectly. For a closer point of comparison in terms of what they actually sound like, imagine a more focused, more metallic version of Virus, or a less deranged Deathspell Omega (Indeed, the band are distributed by guitarist Hasjarl's Norma Evangelium Diaboli imprint). There's also a more direct nod to classic heavy metal than most black metal bands would dare to include, notably in the chugging thrash riffs that pop up every now and then and fairly traditional soloing (particularly on To Dare Not Speak Its Name). Jhn's vocals are somewhere between Mikko Aspa and Max Cavalera, while his drumming is almost pure prog. Whereas as most black metal bands envelop themselves in a fog of tape hiss and static, Kathaaria's polished production enables the listener to hear all the intricacies of their surprisingly accomplished musicianship. Considering the band are simply a two-piece, featuring guitarist Opolus and aforementioned drummer/vocalist Jhn, it's remarkable how full and accomplished their sound is.

It's fair to say Kathaaria are not your average black metal band, yet they keep enough to the rulebook to simply be viewed as a breath of fresh air rather than as avant-garde pioneers. There's still enough fury in the blastbeats and spite in Jhn's growl to keep any fan of extreme music happy. Songs like Venus Dementia are as vicious as you like while still managing to throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. It's only in the last two tracks that the band take a more atmospheric approach, Aenigma daring to experiment with a more melodic sound, giving the music time to breathe rather than breathlessly hurtling through as many different riffs as humanly possible without turning into an incoherent mess. Dead Not Dreaming is something of a concession to more traditional black metal, being a little more simple than the other tracks, coming out of the gate fast and furious before sliding into a mid-paced, atmospheric groove where it remains for a good chunk of the song, picking up a little more in intensity towards the end.

Of course, it isn't completely perfect. Most of the songs are a little too complex for their own good, lurching incoherently from one riff to the next in the manner of say, early Opeth. This means that once the album's finished you'll be hard pushed to actually remember any of it, however entertaining it is when it's on. Kathaaria have got a good thing going, but much like the Swedish prog-death masters, Kathaaria need to focus and streamline their sound a bit more before becoming truly great.

Killing Songs :
To Dare Not Speak Its Name, Aenigma, Dead Not Dreaming
James quoted 82 / 100
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