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Be they men, be they gods, the voice of a land - 72%

autothrall, February 19th, 2010

Kawir has always been one of the more fascinating Greek black metal acts due to their exploration of native cultural themes, mysticism, and mythology, subjects I feel could really benefit a lot more European bands. Not just in Greece, mind you, but how many black metal bands would benefit from a heavier focus on folklore and myth than, say, sheer writing-on-the-wall Satanism or Anti-Christianity? I'm not trying to imply that those are bad subjects, mind you, but they do grow ever more tired as the years roll forward. And while I haven't found previous Kawir efforts like Arai or Ophiolatreia to be rapture in musical form, they were at least intriguing and atmospheric, rather well plotted and benefitted from a mix of raw black production and highly melodic instrumentation.

This new EP, To Uranus, is a mix of both old and new material. I'm actually going to start with the older content, so I'll be mixing up the order for a change. The final two tracks "Eumenides" and "Adored Cry of Olympus" are both culled from the band's rare 1994 EP Eumenides, and they still sound rather fresh, despite a little hiss to the tone. Complex and dynamic without being technically involved, "Eumenides" is a majestic and warlike track with great keys that provide a scintillating background. "Adored Cry of Olympus..." is a more solemn, sloth-like piece, guitars and harsh vocals woven over a thick bass line while the synths echo like choirs across an ancient night sky. Kawir has also included the track "Sinn (The Blazing Queen)", which is taken from their split 7" with Sigh in 1994, released through Cacophonous Records. The vocals on this are more of a hostile grunt, but it sounds quite cool alongside the raw fervor of the guitars, which often break from the expected to craft escalating dual melodies.

Some might argue that the newer material is better, and it does in fact benefit from a far denser, level production in which the guitars, vocals and keys blaze evenly across the adequate rhythm section. But I'm not so sure. I rather appreciate the charm of the early work. But the style has not changed much, as you will hear in "To Uranus", a decent lamentation with some sorrow-filled male choirs (both low and high pitched) that ring over the thick melodic riffing, and an intro of idyllic flutes. "Swords of Dardanus" is a lengthier, more savage offering, and I enjoyed the vocals. If at times you are made to think of Sakis Tolis from Rotting Christ, don't be alarmed, he is an actual guest on the recording (as is Hildr Valkyrie). "Kouretes" is another 7+ minute newer track, with some great discordant guitars that coil like serpents about a steady bass and really harsh, tortured vocals.

It was cool of Kawir to offer the old recordings along with the new, for I can only imagine how rare they must be outside of internet downloads. It serves as a nice little collection that spans the career of a band more black metal fans should probably become aware of, since they've been on the scene since the earlier 90s. An easy recommendation here for fans of early Rotting Christ, Nocternity, or Varathron, even if the band has yet to truly 'nail it'.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com