Not long ago we came across a song called “Lik Ulven” (Like the Wolf) by a mysterious Norwegian band called The Konsortium, and wrote about it here. You can’t like a song as much as we liked that one and then just let it go. So we wrote Agonia Records and politely requested the chance to hear the entire forthcoming album, which will include that song. To be honest, there may have been some pathetic begging involved — but we got our wish.
Three years in the making, The Konsortium’s self-titled debut takes the caustic machinery of black metal and brashly drives it in some very interesting and creative directions. Much as Anaal Nathrakh has done, The Konsortium embeds within their songs a melodic core, often expressed by memorable clean vocals (which are quite varied but usually have a somewhat inhuman, wailing quality reminiscent of Dave Hunt‘s), but they’ve surrounded those briefly emerging melodies with one powerful sonic assault on the senses after another.
The vocals on the album (which include guest contributions by Kvelertak‘s Erlend Hjelvik) are certainly one of its more unusual features. They include deep, demonic, abraded roars; throaty, agonizing howls; wolfish barking; baritone chanting; clean vocal harmonies; and those rising wails that will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Sometimes they have an over-the-top theatrical quality, and sometimes they sound like something that just wants to tear your guts out. (more after the jump . . .)
The eight songs on the album are equally varied in their styles. “Gasmask Prince” and “Lik Ulven” are black-thrash assaults, with full-throttle drums and furious guitars, but they’re also packed with hook-heavy riffs that will get you moving to The Konsortium’s hellish beat.
“Under the Black Flag” and “Decomposers” take the blistering pace down a few notches. The former is a mid-paced, down-tuned, staggering stomp of a song and the latter is a ghoulish anthem that lurches and grinds forward relentlessly in a near-crawl until all hell breaks lose near the song’s end.
“Knokkeklang” and “Slagens Barn” are catchy black ‘n’ roll rockers that will make you want to pound your head, but even those songs don’t evolve exactly as you think they will. For example, there’s a moment of near-silence in “Knokkeklang”, followed by slow, resonant bass chords and shimmering guitar notes before the song erupts in a furious finish.
“Onward! Onward!” is a blizzard of blast-beats and rapidly vibrating, distorted guitars segmented by big slamming chords, a slithering tremolo lead, and theatrical vocals dramatically crying out the title of the song.
And then there’s the closing track, “Tesla”. After a slow, brutish start with a diseased guitar lead, the song becomes a swarm of blast-beats and buzzing guitar notes — a disturbing cacophony of blackened grind with equally disturbing vocals. More than halfway through, however, the song’s pace drops dramatically, making way for a heavy, bass-driven passage and a shrieking guitar solo that becomes the prelude to resumption of the maelstrom — but with stately, clean vocals rising through the miasma.
Apart from the participation of guitarist Teloch (Mayhem, Nidingr), the identities of The Konsortium’s members are unknown, but this clearly isn’t their first rodeo. They have an obvious mastery of their instruments and a knack for intelligent song construction that wasn’t born yesterday. Whoever The Konsortium are, they’ve created a tremendously varied, cutting-edge album of modern black metal that will keep you off balance. Word of this album is going to get around, and we predict people will be talking about it a lot over the last half of the year.
Here’s that closing track, “Tesla”, which Agonia Records just released for streaming last Friday. It’s one of my two favorites on the album. Hope you like it too.
The Konsortium’s debut album will be released June 24 in Europe and July 19 in North America on Agonia Records, and it’s available for pre-order there.