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Pagan Black Metal Mastery - 90%

PassiveMetalhead, December 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Indie Recordings

It’s quite hard to comprehend that Norwegian black metal quartet, Kampfar are now 20 years into their career as they’ve generally been overshadowed by their neighboured peers. Since 2011’s riveting unleashing of “Mare” they have undergone slight changes to their blackened soundscapes that consequently have led to a steady expansion of binding emotion within their music. The true-Norwegian-black-metal tag with trademark sonic assaults of pummelling percussion and raucous riffing as still present however the more harmonious side of Kampfar was showcased during 2014’s “Djevelmakt”. Now just a year later, Kampfar solidify themselves as pagan black metal standard bearers with the heretical in “Profan”.

Instead of drawing us to a cold wasteland of black metal bleakness, Kampfar illustrate a different sense of ungodliness by plunging us soul-first into the fiery chasms of Hell. The production to replicate this imagery is where most black metal bands will stumble however Kampfar not only nail this imagery, but develop on it. The development in ‘Icons’ is found in the first few seconds of the song where it lulls you into fluttering folk metal confusion before a direct attack of unabashed black metal vehemence. In a way, the title summarises the bands upcoming legacy rather fittingly. ‘Skavank’ is a 7 minute burner of breathless supremacy. It’s very riff driven with authoritative chugs that will undoubtedly snap many necks thanks to guitarist, Ole, yet during a slower intersection of staccato harmonies form a heightened sense of pride and majesty that pinpoints the heart to build a foundation of menacing atmosphere that can only be compared to the likes of Primordial or Winterfylleth.

The instrumental talent of Kampfar is nothing short of perfect on their 7th album. Each member releases their own masterful gifts to the centre of the pentagram in a state of controlled chaos. Dolk’s singing capabilities are truly wicked and he sounds menacing both with icy howls, which are present in all tracks, and also in low end groans during ‘Daimon’. In the same song, experimentation is sought out through atypical instruments such as tribal-like didgeridoo and theatrical piano. However at the flick of a switch the whole band is electrified into holistic mayhem that is centralised around Ask’s magnificent drumming.

Emotion is a focal development in Kampfar’s music. Their grandiose atmosphere has been expanded greatly since “Mare” and is now perfected 4 years later. Opener ‘Gloria Ablaze’ and closer ‘Tornekratt’ are both gripping pieces of secular music. The former sets the passionate tone instantly and includes an asphyxiating chorus that sweeps you off your feet. The latter encapsulates the album’s emotion halfway through with powerful cries, blast beats and tremolo picking with spellbinding fashion. It’s hard to describe the feeling of completeness that these two feelings seem to emit. Try listening to ‘O Father, O Satan, O Sun!’ by Behemoth and that might prove apt in portraying this emotional intensity.

Brandish your bullet belt, raise a spiked gauntlet to the heavens and release yourself to the sacrilegious mayhem that is “Profan”.