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Grand Belial's Key > Kohanic Charmers > Reviews > Slater922
Grand Belial's Key - Kohanic Charmers

Well this is something... - 80%

Slater922, April 22nd, 2022

Grand Belial's Key, a band that's been known for many, many things. Some of them are good, while others... aren't so good. But regardless of what you think of the band, even its detractors can't deny the influence GBK has, particularly in the USBM scene. Their early works in particular were highly praised for having some unique black metal riffs that to this day, not many bands have been able to replicate. And just recently, the band has finally released a new album for the first time in 17 years titled "Kohanic Charmers". And for being out of the metal scene for nearly two decades, I think this comeback of theirs is pretty decent.

Let's start off with the instruments. For the most part, these instrumentals are more or less the same like in the previous records, and that is immediately shown in the first track "Prayer Shawl of the First Born Donkey". The guitar riffs sound very raw, but also very bouncy in style, as it mixes in a sound of darkness and melody, which is what GBK's usually known for. The drumming is also decent, as its beat patterns are strong enough to carry a consistent fierce tempo throughout the track. Even the bass is pretty good, as it follows the guitars pretty well and establishes a good foundation for the track. The overall atmosphere of this track is rough, dirty, and blasphemous, which isn't too different from what they've done before. However, where they lack in changing their sound is made up from the fact that they can still make some pretty powerful riffs, and this is especially the case for one of my favorite tracks on this album, "Crud Drips from the Shofar". Not only do the guitar riffs mix the chaotic and melodic sounds well, but in the middle of the track, we hear a soft acoustic guitar play a slow, calming riff, which then transits back to the rough instrumentals really well. The instrumentals here haven't changed much in terms of style, but they still sound just as ugly as their previous works.

But if there's one area of this album that I would've loved to see improved on, that would be the vocals. Sven "Unhold" Zimper does the vocals here, and they're not bad per say, but at the same time, I think there's room for improvement. He does the usual high-pitched shrieks in black metal, but they don't feel as sincere. Part of what makes GBK great is the vocals having a genuine hateful personality, which both The Black Lourde of Crucifixion and the late Grimnir Heretik were able to do exceptionally well. Unhold, on the other hand, does occasionally sound hateful, but for a good portion of the tracks, he's just doing the shrieks for the sake of it. This is especially the case in the song "Two Forks and a Muttering Diviner", which is good, but the echo effect of the vocals at the 30 second mark sounds terrible and doesn't enhance the track at all. Even though Unhold can bring in some powerful vocals, for the most part, they're not the strongest element of the album.

But even though the vocals were kind of weak, I still think this is a pretty good album overall. The instrumentation, while still the same they've done before, still gets the job done in providing a dirty and raw atmosphere. And while the lyrics are currently unknown at the time of writing this, I'm assuming that it's the usual anti-Abrahamic stuff that they've been doing since "A Witness to the Regicide". GBK shows that they still got the strength to produce some dynamic and energetic tracks after a long hiatus, and "Kohanic Charmers" is an album I highly recommend you check out.