Tell us about yourself, about Khonsu and what made you decide to start this project?
Well, to go really far back in time, my father has always been a hobby musician and when growing up me and my brother Arnt “Obsidian C.” Gronbech from Keep of Kalessin played around with his instruments and recording equipment from a very young age. He had several guitars – both acoustic and electric — a keyboard, and piano, and I think I was 6-7 when I first recorded some of my own music on my his 4 track tape recorder. So listening to music and the joy of making music has always been a part of my family, and without this early environment I would probably never have been a musician today.
My father also felt it would be important to keep learning to play instruments by going to professional lessons, but I didn’t like it very much and he more or less had to force me. I have never been interested in learning to play something someone else has already made, so I came to most lessons unprepared and had not rehearsed. So eventually I quit. I’ve always preferred to improvise and be creative on my own. So I actually have very little knowledge of music theory, and most of the time I have no idea what the chords or scales I am playing are even called.
(Earlier this month we published a review by Andy Synn of the new album by Norway’s Khonsu, and now we present a second one, written by TheMadIsraeli.)
I had this review already written, then Trump won the election and I thought I needed to take a step back and re-evaluate music and its significance to us, especially in the coming time. Things have changed, more than likely for the worse, and metal has a newfound place in my heart and soul in light of this. I’m angry, I’m pissed, and I wish I lived in a different world or dimension altogether, but here we are. It’s albums like Khonsu’s The Xun Protectorate that provide the kind of metallic excess of rage, sorrow, and apprehension that help quench my current emotional turbulence and leave me finding peace. It is also the closest it gets this year to transporting me to a different dimension.
And it’s also the best album of 2016.
(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Norway’s Khonsu, plus the band’s just-released stream of an album track called “The Observatory”.)
The many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics suggests that there is a potentially infinite number of alternative universes in existence, some wildly divergent from our own, some as close to what we know as to be almost indistinguishable from the one we call home.
Listening to The Xun Protectorate is like being given a teasing window into one of these worlds… a world that is both strikingly different, and yet intimately familiar, where the battle for the heart and soul of Black Metal was not dominated by the devil-worshippers and the church-burners, but by the stargazers and the dreamweavers.
In this world the titanic generation ships of the Samael exodus have long since passed beyond the limits of our solar system, carrying with them the cyborg monks of the Brotherhood of Thorns as they seek to interface directly with their god, while, in orbit around the ruins of Old Earth, the neon-spires of Perdition City play host to the Machiavellian machinations of Dødheimsgard Inc. and their gene-engineered clientele.
It’s a world where the nascent Black Metal scene chose entirely to reject the insular, inflexible dogma of those who wanted to limit it, to keep it small and keep it to themselves, and instead embraced an expansive, open-minded approach, looking outward, instead of turning inwards. And only in such a world could an album like The Xun Protectorate have come to fruition…
(DGR prepared this large roundup of new music streams, with one item added by the editor.)
I’ve been slowly gathering up this veritable feast of heavy metal for this roundup, basically doing my usual duty of being the last line of defense for metal news that often pops up and we didn’t catch right away for a variety of reasons. This time around, I’ve got a huge collection of six [now seven] different items, some of which I’m sure you’ve likely crossed paths with but we didn’t dedicate words to and others because they may not be in the usual NCS coverage wheelhouse. I even managed to include some serious lighter fare this time, to help brighten up the mood musically after the first two full onslaughts [now three] hit your musical listening systems.
So let’s kick this thing off with a real quick one that happened as I was writing this intro, and then dive into the meat of it and romp around in its innards for a while.
KHONSU – ARTWORK TRAILER / “A DREAM OF EARTH” SNIPPET
This one is going to be quick, mostly because there isn’t a huge block of heavy metal music proper — but it just happened, and I’ll be goddamned if I don’t say that I am immensely excited for this disc.
I’ve returned from Olympia where I spent three days and four nights immersed in the wonders of Migration Fest. While I still need to write a recap of the festival’s final day to accompany two previously posted recaps, I’ve also started exploring developments in the world of metal that I missed while I was out and about in Olympia. Unsurprisingly, I missed a lot. I’ve selected a mere quintet of items to recommend in this round-up — four of them from old favorites of our site and one by a very striking newcomer.
To say that we’ve been eagerly anticipating the new album from Norway’s Khonsu would be an understatement. Earlier this year, our man Andy Synn named it as one of his five most anticipated albums of this year, largely on the strength of the band’s 2012 debut album Anomalia, which he called “without doubt one of the strongest and most creative debut albums in living metal memory”. And now, finally, we have more details about the album along with a video trailer for it.
(From time to time Andy Synn posts lists of things that come in five’s… and today he writes about five forthcoming albums that have peaked his interest.)
We’re only just over two months into 2016 now, and yet already we’ve seen the release of a host of stellar albums from across the metallic spectrum, including several (Wildernessking and Borknagar, to name but two) which easily ranked amongst my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year.
So now seems like as good a time as any to pick out five other albums which I’ve been waiting on with (not literally) baited breath.
Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list. In fact I’ve specifically left out any upcoming albums I’ve already heard (Cult of Luna, for example) or which we’ve covered here at NCS recently (Mithras, Schammasch, etc), in favour of five selections a little more personal to me.
I put together one round-up of newly discovered music in today’s first post, but I have more discoveries I want to share with you.
THE SLOW DEATH
The Slow Death is an Australian doom band whom I first wrote about last fall. I paid attention to them at that time because I had learned that they would be joining with the awesome Majestic Downfall in a forthcoming split, to be released by Chaos Records (the cover art is above). Yesterday, the band released a complete version of their contribution to the split for streaming, and it’s mighty good.
“Criticality Incident I” begins slowly, drifting like clouds lit from above by the sun, casting deep shadows but edged by a radiant glow. Shimmering, chiming guitar melodies swirl around the power of stark drumbeats and booming bass notes, and effervescent soloing adds more light to the darkness. The singing varies between soaring clean expressions (Mandy Andresen) and ultra-deep guttural growls (Gregg Williamson). As the song progresses, it accelerates into a hammering drive. It’s a beautiful kind of sorrow.
Hey there. Happy goddamn Sunday to one and all. Most metal blog proprietors take the weekend off, to rest from their work-week labors and to recover from their binge drinking on Friday night. We’re not smart enough to do that. For the last four-plus years we’ve treated Saturdays and Sundays as just two more opportunities to mess with your earholes. Onward to the messing, with four items I filtered from the effluent of the interhole yesterday, presented in alphabetical order:
I came across this Vancouver band via a Facebook post by Vault of Dried Bones, who will be releasing a cassette EP or album (I’m not sure which) by Deathwinds named Endless Wastelands. The only other thing I know about the band is that their three-person line-up (Nocturnal Black, Filth Destroyer, and Desolator) includes members of Chapel and Radioactive Vomit.
Yesterday Vault of Dried Bones began streaming a song named “Black Tombs’ Spirit” on SoundCloud, but after a little poking around I discovered that both “Black Tombs’ Spirit” and another song (“Death Rule”) are up on Bandcamp as pay-what-you-want downloads. I think I can safely say that I love the shit out of them.
So many excellent new songs have begun streaming in recent days that I’ve shoehorned two of these round-ups into our schedule today, and I’m still not covering everything I want you to hear. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re bored with the state of metal in 2014, you’re not really listening.
Fourteen years after Confederacy of Ruined Lives, New Orleans’ Eyehategod will finally be releasing a new, self-titled full-length album on May 27 in North America (May 26 in Europe) in North America via Housecore Records. It was mixed by the ubiquitous Sanford Parker and includes some of the final recordings from late Eyehategod drummer Joey LaCaze.
Today the band premiered a squalling track from the album entitled “Agitation! Propaganda!” which can be streamed below. It will get your blood pumping with a meaty punked-out fist in the face and then kick you tumbling down into a sludgy pit of tar.
I’m still catching up on news, new music, and video premieres that I didn’t have time to write about late last week while I was on the road for my day job. In addition to what I pulled together yesterday, I’ve got the following four items to recommend.
Khonsu is the Norwegian band started by multi-instrumentalist S. Grønbech. We wrote about Khonsu frequently in 2012 during the run-up to release of their debut album Anomalia (which was reviewed here by Andy Synn). On Anomalia, Grønbech was joined by his brother Arnt (aka Obsidian Claw, guitarist/keyboardist for Keep of Kalessin) as well as Keep of Kalessin’s vocalist Thebon. I hadn’t heard much about Khonsu since then, but last weekend brought a flood of news — and yesterday brought a new song and video.
The news is that Khonsu will release a new full-length album this fall, and a new EP entitled Traveller will be released for download on March 22. Beginning yesterday, and on each Saturday through that release date, Khonsu will add new songs from the EP for streaming on YouTube. There are five in total, including new versions of two KoK songs originally released in 2003 (“Traveller” and “Ix”), a cover of “Army of Me” by Bjørk, and a purely electronic version of “The Malady” from Anomalia. But the first song released yesterday through a music video is a new one that will appear on the forthcoming album: “Visions of Nehaya”.