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Greek mythology is – with the Bible – one of the main Western culture pillars. Countless works are inspired by Hesiod’s beautiful cosmology narratives or Homer’s incredible epics. However, black metal has always kept itself away from this source, yet so rich. Nordic legends and evilness celebration are indeed cloaking Heracles exploits in most black metal lyrical booklets.
But then, there is Kawir. Of Greek origin, created at the turn of the 1990s and led since by Therthonax, this band has chosen to showcase its immense national heritage. With excellent results, even if notoriety never really followed. Band strikes again this year with ΙΣΟΘΕΟΣ (« Isoteos » in Latin characters, meaning « equal to God ») with its new Pan-European line-up, with two more experienced musicians, namely Serbian Phaesphoros (guitar and vocals) and Swiss Ormenos (Drums, who is also Switzerland-based Borgne band leader).
Kawir is celebrating Greek Gods through a strong pagan-inspired black metal, their fifth record acting as new evidence. Melodic structure favors epic sequences (mostly mid-tempo pace, choral singing) and grandiose passages (sound projections, use of wind instruments), but without any excess, compared to hundreds of other band plaguing the same sub-genre. Stylistic effects and changes of pace are here well distributed throughout tracks. Song writing also relies on very good and catchy riffs that give each song a specific identity, even without a more elaborate orchestration support.
Like many other pagan black metal acts, Kawir members exploit traditional sounds, especially flute and qanun, a Levant typical instrument I had never heard of. Result is impressive and adds a kind of authenticity impossible to find with keyboards-only bands. Therefore, song Hymn to Apollo gives us the impression of being caught up in a temple! Arts God, himself a wonderful harp player, is celebrated here with dignity! I think it’s ultimately important to note that all texts are written and performed in ancient Greek, a probably unique situation in black metal realm.
I admit I was pleasantly surprised by this album’s quality, beautifully produced and performed by a band that I never knew existed. Even though I’m usually not fond of the paganism-inspired register, a sub-genre completely saturated and emptied of its originality; ΙΣΟΘΕΟΣ hits the mark and forces my admiration. 8/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.