Feb 052016



(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Germany’s Ketzer.)

This German band’s third full-length continues to defy genres. It varies on a song-by-song basis as to what shade of darkness these guys are bringing. From the more blackened death metal roar of riffage that is “When Milk Runs Dry” to the punk influence permeating the thrashy moments of almost black ‘n’ roll. It’s the attention to detail and aversion to following a formula that elevates this album above the dozens of other metal releases still sitting in my in-box. The solos are very melodic and add to the song rather than just litter them with shredding.

Ketzer are most often thought of as a black metal/thrash hybrid, though their bassist plays a much larger role in their sound than the bulk of black metal bands. At times this creates almost a groove without conforming to mainstream metal.




The thrash influence doesn’t appear in the more obvious chugs and gallops. It lurks in on songs like “Shaman’s Dance”, where the mood darkens into something like one of Slayer’s serial killer love songs. The vocals are the most blackened texture to their sound, carrying a coarse mid-range rasp that scrapes the back of the singer’s tortured throat with equal doses of anguish and anger. Another thrash influence that lies under the surface rather than storming the gates with a blitz of double bass is the dissonant tension with which they hold the grooves, in a way that reminds me of Voivod.

Composition is the band’s strength. They throw in melodic breakdowns when they are least expected. They are black metal in the sense that they throw a similar passionate dissonance into their music, conveying a wider range of black metal tends of convey a greater emotional range than more the monochrome anger of thrash or death metal.

There is no clean singing on this album, but plenty of clean guitar tones. One of the more organic-sounding tones opens up “Earthborn”. This album is so well-produced that the guitars always carry an organic warmth to them, but still have the distorted density needed to make them heavy. The instrumental that closes the album is not really metal at all, but some kind of ’70s rock jam.

This album is being released on Metal Blade with very little fanfare, so do yourself a favor if you have discerning ears that ask for more than blast beats for the sake of blast beats and check this album out. These guys have put a vast amount of work into honing their craft to create what might go down as the most underrated album of the year.




  4 Responses to “KETZER: “STARLESS””

  1. I’ve heard some complain that this sounds a lot like the new Tribulation; while I understand the reference and concern, I consider that a great thing, since both that record and this one are fantastic.

  2. “This album is being released on Metal Blade with very little fanfare”

    I’ve been getting nonstop emails, seeing blog posts and constant updates about this album since it was announced they signed with the label. Almost as much as the Abbath release.

  3. “This album is being released on Metal Blade with very little fanfare”

    It should be…no offense to anyone else, because my opinion is my own, but this album is a complete piece of shit. How the hell this is the same band that did “Satans Boundaries Unchained” I’ll never know

  4. Being a big fan of their previous works even though i was shocked by the first track released i tried
    to be patient and awaited the album.Heard it and really hated it.I seen people (maily critics cause 9/10 of fans also told me they hated it) praising it and that it is evolution of their sound etc.

    Personally i think it’s the definition of the term “sell outs”.They built a fan base in the underground they got the support and when they got big money they played the “we are artists” card.Dont get me wrong,i dont think a band shouldnt try to evolve or add new elemets to their sound but here we are talking about another genre completely.
    If the transition was between albums i might be able to accept that or if they said that “hey guys we moved on we want to play different things” i would still respect that.But keeping the name and taking us for fools cause they want to sell to the hipster fans?Well that i cannot respect and support…so RIP KETZER…

    P.S “This album is being released on Metal Blade with very little fanfare”
    we all got spam for months before the release from various sources so i think you may be wrong there.

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