Perhaps the most consistent and rewarding KAWIR offering yet
It was the mid-2000s when I eventually stumbled upon the name KAWIR. They showed up on my radar due to a recommendation by fellow Greek black metal fans – a style I had spent a lot of time with around these years and it has remained a favorite musical sub-genre of mine until the present day.
Since then, KAWIR‘s discography has been an unsteady ride to my pair of ears and therefore I’ve not exactly been an avid follower of their work, shelving their records more regularly than I ever thought I would (considering how much I like the genre) as the group seemingly didn’t have the chops to reach a certain level of quality again, one that even their earliest demo incarnations possessed (“Eumenides” – 1993).
In 2017 and actually only a couple of months ago, “Exilasmos” was presented to the metal underground and only very recently have I decided to give it some proper attention, not expecting too much, given their previously mentioned unsteady offerings.
What can I say? For the first time since their demo days, I feel a little remorse for my premature judgement, since “Exilasmos” has many of their old ingredients (dense atmosphere, a strong classic heavy metal influence) firmly connected to the evolutions of their later era (use of choirs, wind instruments and diverse percussive elements, plus rather loose, unconventional song structures) but the outcome is a lot more stimulating and rewarding this time around.
“Exilasmos” manages not only to have a strong atmospheric core (underlined by a refreshingly crisp and smoothly reverberating production), it also has many interesting heavy metal riffs amidst the blasting black metal fury and even if the rhythm guitars take a backseat in terms of variation a little too often for my liking, the beautifully crafted (twin!) lead guitars will plant your feet firmly within KAWIR‘s microcosm. Yeah, these solos and soaring melodies are the absolute highlight of the record and even some of its weaker moments remain impressive enough because of their majesty.
Speaking of weaker moments, the duo “Thyestia Deipna” and “Lykaon” lack most of the grandeur and memorability of the other songs, the latter being the worst offender and it does NOT deserve to have the opening slot. It gives a false impression of what’s to come later, as it rides an inferior Black Sabbath-esque riff for far too long with little variation before exploding into a rather plain open-chord, Norwegian-styled black metal affair later in the song. In addition, Porphyrion‘s persistent lack of vocal variation is another nuisance placed on top of an already lackluster opener and this man’s (over)use of monotonous shrieks is perhaps the only major complaint spread over the whole course of “Exilasmos” – more often than not you just want him to shut the fuck up already.
Nevertheless, “Exilasmos” is a (surprisingly) strong opus, perfectly serviceable for fans of melodic black metal or melodic extreme metal in general but especially recommended to people like me, who love to dwell in ancient mystical vibes enriched by skillfully crafted lead guitar glory and the type of classic rhythm guitar workmanship only to be found in Hellenic Black Metal.
Mandatory tracks: “Oedipus”, “Agamemnon” and “Orestes” – these three showcase some of the more impressive lead melodies you’ve heard in this genre and are ideal gateways to those foreign to the realm of Mediterranean metal.