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The non-song - 3%

The_Ghoul, October 18th, 2013

When I heard the first few seconds of The Dragontower, by Keep of Kalessin, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Sure, it sounded like one of the slower songs off Keep of Kalessin's newer work, but it didn't sound bad, perse'. By the time I heard the chorus, my train of thought had shifted to something along the lines of "who thought this song was a good idea?". After finishing this song, I can say that the degree of forgettable-ness and banality is so high that it actually is offensive to the ears simply from being so boring. I'm not going to grace The Dragontower with a long review, however, because this is only 3 minutes of music.

However, I will judge this as a pop song. It's a pop song, as another reviewer pointed out, in every possible way. From being a Eurovision contest entry to the endless hooks to the kitsch chorus, all the elements of being a pop hit are there. So I will not delay any longer in saying that this is a shitty pop song, and hence the low rating. If the point of a pop song is to be catchy and infect the listener's ear for days or weeks, this fails completely, because after 4 listens I still cannot remember how all 3 minutes go. I can vaguely remember the chorus, which, like the rest of the song, is in Ab mixolydian based off of C minor (probably not the most graceful way of saying it, but that's the basic idea) and they pretty much ride the scale from Ab to Eb and back down to Ab throughout much of the song, and it comes off sounding quite hollow and pointless, as it's been done a million times before. Most (if not all) of the hooks are based off that premise, and let me tell you that the hooks still haven't sunken in. They're lame. And no, some songs take a while to seep in, i.e. an acquired taste. This is not that. There is no deeper meaning to be found, it's just shitty hook after shitty hook. The guitar solo is technically pretty decent, but is so vanilla and faceless that the solo Eddie Van Halen did for Michael Jackson on Beat It had more character than this. I mean, everything is in its place, and all the hooks and verses and bridges are there, and that's the problem. I wish KoK would just fuck with me a little, challenge my mind. Do SOMETHING. Progressive song detour, acoustic break, 2 minute guitar solo, thrash break, blastbeats, ANYTHING. But it never happens. Even the song length is nauseatingly pedestrian, at 3 minutes.

Shit, I've devoted far more time than this turd deserves. I would say youtube it, but then it will appear in your history, and I, for one, am ashamed that I ever came into contact with this and had it appear in my cookies. I'm currently washing my browser history of such trash.

Forgettably unhatable. - 28%

hells_unicorn, March 5th, 2010

I’ve been subjected to some rather odd experiences within the realm of metal, but as of this very moment, this is the oddest. I am only mildly familiar with Keep Of Kalessin, in spite of their connection with the Norwegian black metal scene, so expectations didn’t really play much of a role in interpreting what is at work here. But by any standard of the world of all things steel, this is pretty hard to fully love, hate, or even revile for its sheer lack of lovability or detestableness.

The natural goal of this sort of a song is mass consumption, as can be gleaned from its purpose as an entry into the Eurovision song contest. But the problem that it runs into is that it is lost in an infinite sea of potpourri. Just about every mainstream manifestation of metal ever conceived can be heard in parts of this: from softball semi-metalcore meets nu-metal vocalizations (themselves a poor imitation of Phil Anselmo at his worst), woefully predictable riffs that lay somewhere between a post-rock drone and a very small tinge of thrash metal of the early 90s, slowed down variety, and an epic backdrop of ambient keyboards and a stagnant rhythm section that meanders somewhere between an oversimplified version of Emperor’s late era with a little bit of a C grade symphonic power metal additives here and there.

When all of the elements are mashed together into just barely over 3 minutes of music, which in and of itself is very stationary in nature, you have the makings of an instant radio hit, minus the necessary distinctiveness needed to actually pull it off. There is nothing overtly offensive to decent metallic sensibilities or over the top awful about this to make it appealing to the current pseudo-metal hipster crowd that thinks Atreyu is aggressive as fuck, nor is there really a pleasantness to it that can rope in the rock radio fans who think they’re heavy as fuck for knowing all the lyrics of Metallica’s “Sad But True”. The only thing that really makes it stand out among the drivel of Slipknot and company is that it has a guitar solo, albeit a pretty brief and unadventurous one that Dimebag probably would not have touched apart from that decrepit crap he threw together with Damageplan.

In short, this is a song that succeeds in simply being there, coming through the speakers and letting people know that the room isn’t silent. It is simultaneously so bland and so steeped in cliché that it could only really succeed in being background music during some hipster social gathering where today’s pseudo-beatniks make woefully tragic attempts at deep conversation, or perhaps an alternative to listening to your air conditioner for 3 minutes before nodding off into a mid day cat nap. I don’t really have the heart to smack this with a super low score, but it will not be a difficult song to forget about once a few minutes have passed. Wait…what was I talking about again?

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 4, 2010.

Not a keeper to be sure. - 2%

Pfuntner, March 3rd, 2010

Well, this is certainly bad. No doubt about that.

The biggest problem here is that Keep of Kalessin are shooting to please both sides of the fence and miss both horribly. They’re clearing trying to make as many references to generic metal lyrical topics as possible but they forgot to make any of the lyrics make any sense. ‘The power of the dragon tower”? Seriously guys? I’ve heard better metal lyrics in parodies of power metal bands, let alone real ones. There’s also a riff that could be a metal riff. The only points I’m giving this are for the riff, because in some far away fantasy land, this riff could conceivably be used well if it was played in a different fashion, had a different drum part and wasn’t repeated so god damn much through out the track. There are also some harsh vocals that are pretty weak and remind me of a Trivium tune rhythmically. Oh there’s also a solo. Don’t ask me to describe it because I can’t. All I know is that it exists in some capacity.

So if that were it, this would be a bad metal song. No big deal right? Well it’s also a really shitty pop tune. Don’t try arguing that this isn’t pop either. There’s a fucking disco beat in the chorus, and if that isn’t at least kind of poppy than I don’t know what is. But anyway, this is a shitty pop song. Think about it this way, “Enter Sandman” might not be the pinnacle of human achievement, but holy shit is it catchy. ‘The Dragontower” despite all of it’s pitiful attempts is not catchy. In a few hours I will not remember how this song goes. In a few months I will not remember that this song exists. The band pulls out all the stops on what they think are pop writing essentials such as repeating one musical idea NON STOP until no one could possibly resist it. Sadly that one idea isn’t catchy, or interesting enough to hold the weight of such repetition. They also try and write a catchy chorus but they are clearly in capable of doing it. Any attempts to have cross over appeal into the pop market are completely destroyed the minute you title your song “The Dragontower”.

I want to say that I’ve only had minimal experience with KoK’s older works, so I’m not pissed about them betraying my sense of entitlement to good music. I’m just annoyed at how pathetic this song is in its attempts to please the pop world while still holding on to the least interesting elements of metal. Why even bother with the metal parts if you’re going this far in the other direction. I guess they’re trying to fill the obligatory metal band spot on the Eurovision roster. Hey, it worked for Lordi right?

Avoid.

Not to what I am accustomed to. - 20%

Twistedeyes, March 3rd, 2010

I am not a Keep of Kalessin fan, I have only heard the album Kolussus and it was an enjoyable listen at best. After listening to The Dragontower, a song very unlike their melodic black metal sound I am accustomed to and obviously made to attract a bigger audience from perhaps the typical mindless masses and power/nu metal crowds. I am kind of glad I didn't dive further into this band due to the mass disappointment I would of felt If I was a big fan. It surprises me not one bit that if any metal application for Euro vision get approved that it would be this type of metal music. It may be a song from the origins of a genre not overly liked by mainstream critics but everything surrounding it just screams commercialism.

Finding a semblance to this song seems easy enough to unravel quickly because of the audience this is aimed at. A bare bones length of 3:05 and a very simple structure because the song is based around the chorus that has a distinct pop feel about it. Uninspired nu metal vocals sandwiching the main appeal of the song sound horrible and are quite hard to decipher, that could be attributed to the horrid guitar tone that make the vocal lower in the mix produce a somewhat trance feel to the song, not that drowning out these type of vocals is a bad thing. Bass guitar is once again inaudible, not that it overly matters.

The chorus is very poppy with a simple vocal line, it is semi catchy due to the melody portrayed but it offers nothing long lasting as the lyrics are not the slightest bit meaningful. Conjuring of the line "the power of the dragon tower" isn't awe inspiring material, the inclusion of a short and poor solo doesn't help the song either.

Previous Keep of Kalessin fans won't like this at all and a majority of the metal community will shun it. It has some minor redeeming factors due to the drums being tolerable, the inclusion of a semi decent drum fill after the solo and the lack of any vividness means you will most likely forget how much it lacks emotion straight after a listen. It may be not anywhere near as bad as the worse in the metal genre but this is the definition of music not having any meaning or lasting appeal. It will appeal to a mainstream audience for a short time as it is flavor of the month material. In the context of meaningful metal music, it won't find a suitable home.

Metal Archives, I am disappointed. - 25%

Ribos, March 1st, 2010

First off, I recognize that I am breaking my policy of “only reviewing releases I own.” That’s because this release is intended to be a radio/iTunes single, meaning the audience is supposed to hear it through that medium. Therefore, I do not feel I am doing it any injustice by hearing it through online mp3s.

Now, for the review. And to reiterate the title, I am disappointed in you, Metal Archives. Four reviews (at this time), all of which give this song a 0%. Those are harsh ratings, on par only with the likes of 666Satanic Army666 and Apocalypse. I was anticipating something gloriously, hilariously, and potentially aggravatingly bad. I was disappointed that this song was none of those. Instead, what I heard was something thoroughly mediocre and bland. Upon reading the other reviews, I found that this blandness is exactly what caused these zeroes.

See, here’s the problem with that thinking: Arise was a blander version of Beneath the Remains. …And Justice For All was a watering-down of Master of Puppets. Horrorscope was a shift in direction towards more popular ideas from The Years of Decay. Countdown To Extinction was a huge popular-pandering step away from Rust In Peace. But you know something? None of those albums justify a 0% rating for their more mainstream appeal. Sure, they’re often criticized for that step, but rarely does anyone view them with such venom as I’ve seen for the likes of this. People are hitting this song harder than they do St. Anger, and that’s just WRONG. This song is boring, yes, but it doesn’t assault the senses with the stench of such shit as Metallica’s 2003 “return.” People seem to forget that releases like this have existed easily since the 80s, and hell, even during the 70s. There have always been bands that are just trying to cash in on the current trends of “rebellious” music. If bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit haven’t killed metal, I sincerely doubt The Dragontower really stands much of a chance of doing so.

This song has a metal riff. Exactly one. That’s pretty much the entire song, give or take a lame chorus and solo. It’s not really a shitty riff, just thoroughly unimpressive. It’s something you can throw on in the background and completely forget it’s playing. The vocals aren’t as terrible as they’ve been made out to be; yeah, they’re overly processed and not exactly the pinnacle of quality, but I’d certainly rather listen to those vocals than, say, Atreyu’s. In fact, the song itself is pretty much entirely inoffensive. Better than a lot of shit, but nothing I’d recommend. This should justify a 50% rating on my scale – I really wouldn’t care if this is playing – but if you do pay attention to the song, the lyrics will come through. Those lyrics are problematic. They follow the same path that most cheesy, often reviled European power metal bands do: take Dio’s fantasy tales, strip them of any metaphor, and go for some mystical “epic” feeling. If you’re not taking yourself seriously, you might be able to pull it off. Unfortunately, Keep of Kalessin does take themselves seriously. Groan-inducing rhymes, mismetered couplets… it’s very clear this is not a band with English as their first language. Nor, for that matter, a band with much sense of self-relection. They never sat down, looked at the lyrics, and asked themselves, “can I really justify this with my dignity?” You know they never did that, because there is no way to answer “yes” to that question.

No, this is not a good song. But aside from the lyrics and minimal-effort composition level, it’s completely inoffensive. I will not try to justify this piece’s existence, since it really serves no purpose whatsoever (and let’s face it, Verka Seduchka was the best thing to happen to Eurovision). However, this community-wide knee-jerk reaction against this thing, all but calling it “the cancer that will kill metal,” is a gross overstatement. Cool your heels, cowboys, and save the venom for the things that deserve it. Like The Unspoken King. This won’t go down in history as a legendarily bad song, nor will the album it winds up on. Honestly, Keep of Kalessin never made the level of popularity (underground of mainstream) that would result in such lore. It won’t influence anything, it’s nothing new, and ultimately no one will care a year from now.

My dear! Keep off Kalessin!!!! - 0%

Shadespawn, March 1st, 2010

You have to ask yourself one central question when a band starts to release singles: "What the fuck?". Evidently, artists release singles out of two reasons. The first one being the increase in their (and in their label's for that matter) financial gain and second to put their band logo on yet another piece of plastic, to appeal to more people and thus increase their mainstream popularity. As I will neither address the mass stupidity factor in mainstream music nor push the matter of "popular" music for "average" people any further, let me present the newest , socially refined, opium-for-the-masses, mainstream candypop-encrusted single of a Norwegian (!) band which asserts itself to the metal scene and what's actually outrageous, to the black metal scene.

Now we all know that the home and even birthplace of black metal (as we understand it today) is Norway with some great bands such as Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, etc. we also realize that Norway is, like any other country, full of the modern Western crap that everybody in our society feeds on. So naturally we have different scenes, with different musical tastes and so on. For somebody who considers himself a fan of this great and epic genre of music that represents alienation and is pretty much combined with the aesthetics and ideology/philosophy of people who are fed up with all that is false and volatile and try to capture the present in the most intense way possible, seeing a band degenerate to a popular vessel of crap is like seeing your ex-girlfriend become a prostitute. Now that everybody can fuck her, you lose your interest completely. This analogy of listening to a band that was quite enjoyable for some time, only to suck (pun intended) pretty much in the end of the enjoyment period and get really bland and uninteresting, directing your focus to other artists drastically, gets you in a mood where you really couldn't care less, but let's get to a description of what this is supposed to be.

Keep of Kalessin, epic name, epic music, whatever, for those who like this sort of stuff they should be relatively well known. I tend to be other opinion when bands present themselves like some retarted pop star shit with eye-liners and makeup and all that crap (excluding corpsepaint which is a slightly other issue and can actually extend the music) and will always incorporate the way a band presents themselves into the overall score of the band and albums at that time. The music is created through everything that is happening around it and not just the sound waves reaching your ears, just open your eyes to the bigger picture. While this band has released some rather average listenable material in the past, their newest song (which is up for Eurovision by the way) is exactly equivalent to the intellectual content the popular show represents, namely nothing with no entertaining value. While Lordi were like a retarded wax-museum come to life and DETHKLOK! a horrendous cartoon for people with down-syndrome, "The Dragontower" is a complete joke. Imagine taking the most horrid pop bands out there, such as Tokio Hotel or whatever crap you can spontaneously think of, putting them in a mixer and making whatever came out user-friendly, by selling it as progressive, innovative, groovy, or whatever you want people to think is good. There is absolutely nothing here that is worth anybody's while. There is nothing extreme or interesting, everything is watered down to a generic form of pop-shit that is supposed to be catchy to the average person who works all week and parties at the weekend. Such music merely exists so that young teensters can take this crap to their intolerant parents and try to demonstrate that the music "isn't that bad mommy can you please buy me the Altars of Madness now?". So fuck this.

So why waste time in writing a review for this single, even if it apparently has to be so incredibly pointless and embarrassing, so utterly disgraceful to anything metal stands for, so unbearably cacophonic that you couldn't even take it after 5+ beers you say? Exactly for that reason. Writing is an outlet to the negative emotion this song has caused me. Now this is not just my choleric profile speaking, no, it's such a waste of some damn good three minutes which you would be better off whacking the weasel or taking a shit. Now I mean even if you would consider making something intentionally bad and generic to begin with, you'd end up with at least DETHKLOK! or some other stupid tragic parody that simply nobody NEEDS to hear. This is a complete and utter waste of time and nerves, simply because it destroys everything I see in metal. It destroys everything metal represents and more even black metal. This single will make homosexuality seem funny and gas chambers like recreation. Yes, it's that bad.

The Dragontower: A Rock-Pop Single! - 0%

Tzeench, January 13th, 2010

We all know of the demonic virus known as the “rock star” virus. And it has fully conquered and killed another Norwegian elite victim in its path…Keep of Kalessin.

First of all…K.o.K. has been going downhill since Attila and Frost left. At first, Thebon seemed to be a worthy replacement vocalist and Obsidian Claw still was somewhat in touch with his sense of art and ideal…but as for the “single,” ‘The Dragontower,’ this band has become WORSE than Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth combined! The one-track title song is purely a pop-rock song, clocking in at a gratuitously radio-friendly 3:05 in length.

The song structure is pure “rock” with a simple power/thrash intro riff and a very simple, waltz-y, tango-like verse-chorus-verse song structure with a few typically show-off, mawkish and immaturely unmemorable guitar solos in a bridge. The clean back-up vocals sung in the chorus take on a very hip-hop/dance pop/Latino samba beat, tempo and feel that reeks of Ricky Martin & Shakira coupled with mainstream pop-rock/nu metal bands ranging from Hoobastank to Godsmack! Thebon’s vocals are very weak, almost in a very metalcore/nu-metal-like tone and delivery. There are no more blast-beats or skank-beats on the drums anymore, either. They, like all the other instruments, follow a simple 4/4 strum-along syncopation.

The overall composition of this ‘one-hit-wannabe’ is a far cry of death compared to their earlier works: ‘Through Times of War,’ ‘Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark,’ and ‘Reclaim.’ The band has fully abandoned, deserted and disavowed their authentic black metal roots entirely….! It's not only foolish and shameful, it's horrendously dishonest and disingenuous.

No feeling, no atmosphere, no uniqueness, no originality, no true artistic merit whatsoever….another pure, defining example of a black metal band selling out in the most blatant sense feared…whatever you do, avoid this plastic-wrapped, candy-coated, all-purpose ‘Rated G,’ subhuman flotsam rock radio single as much as possible.

It’s basically Keep of Kalessin gone ‘Fallout Boy,’ or taking a similar path Cryptopsy did with their degenerate effort, 'The Unspoken King.' Just 110% pure audio garbage!!

This is most definitely another example of THE WORST betrayal of musical decrepitude in metal history.

R.I.P. Keep of Kalessin…. (1993-2010)