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Norwegian black metal vets Keep of Kalessin dole out another dastardly black metal assault chock full of belligerent rhythms enhanced with cinematic overtones on their fifth offering, the eight-track REPTILIAN. Standing shoulder to shoulder with likeminded acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, this squad injects grandiose musical elements into nefarious song structures with a hearty helping of guitar gymnastics (“Judgement”, “The Divine Land”) leading the charge. While longtime fans are sure to bemoan over new elements introduced here such as clean singing, traditional metal transitions, and a “softer” overall vibe (“The Dragontower”), Keep of Kalessin retains enough of the blistering blast beats and evil melodies (“Leaving the Mortal Flesh”) while demonstrating the tenacity to tamper with formulas and venture into other areas on the metal continuum, making songs such as the progressively epic closer “Reptilian Majesty” possible. Unfortunately, ardent followers of the movement aren’t quick to embrace the kind of stylistic shifts this outfit, yet forward thinking fans of bands like Enslaved should really consider giving REPTILIAN a go, as the disc truly melds the best of both worlds to make a solid black metal effort that goes beyond the realms of convention.
- Mike SOS