Keep of Kalessin is an extreme metal band from Trondheim, Norway, formed in 1993 by Obsidian C. (real name Arnt Grønbech). The band’s original lineup consisted of Ghash on vocals, Obsidian C. on guitar and keyboards, Warach Gröger on bass, and Vyl on drums. The name Keep of Kalessin comes from the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin, where the island home is named for its occupant, Earthsea’s oldest and most powerful wizard, Osskil of Kalessin.
The band is best known for their technical style of black metal and their use of classical instruments, such as keyboards and classical guitar. They have released six studio albums and three EPs, performing live with such renowned acts as Satyricon. Their most recent album, ‘Katharsis,’ is due to be released on March 24th through Morningstar Music and Back on Black Records.
Keep of Kalessin’s current lineup encompasses Arnt Grønbech (vocals and keyboards), Robin Isaksen (bass), and Wanja Gröger (drums). They released their first album, ‘Through Times of War,’ in 1997 on Avantgarde Music, but it was later re-released on several other labels. This album was also re-released as a digipak by Peaceville Records in 2007.
Keep of Kalessin’s ‘Through Times of War,’ released on April 27, 1997, through Avantgarde Music, was the band’s first foray into black metal and is widely regarded as a genre pioneer. It is a powerful and intense album that showcases the band’s technical and melodic style of black metal combined with songwriting that is dark and intense, with a varied and dynamic soundscape. The album is full of epic riffs, thundering drums, and soaring vocals that create an atmosphere of chaos and destruction.
The band manages to capture the essence of war in their music, which is intense and aggressive whilst still remaining melodic and complex. The solos stand out, and the production is raw and gritty, culminating in a powerful sound that is both angular and atmospheric.
Several standout tracks on the album include the epic title track, ‘Through Times of War,’ which features some of the band’s greatest intense and complex songwriting. ‘As a Shadow Cast,’ which showcases the band’s knack for crafting memorable melodies, and ‘Obliterator,’ which exhibits their softer and more atmospheric side, are indeed key points.
‘Through Times of War’ received favorable reviews from reviewers and helped establish Keep of Kalessin as a surging force in the extreme metal scene. The album went on to become the genre’s true masterpiece and is still highly esteemed today.
The second album, ‘Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark,’ was released in 1999 on the Avantgarde Music label. The album ushered in a major shift in the band’s sound, as they embraced a more progressive metal sound while staying faithful to their black metal roots.
The album features eight songs that outline the band’s distinguishable blend of black metal and progressive metal. With dense layers of guitars, keyboards, and drums, the songs are intense and atmospheric. The production is polished and crystal-clear, allowing each instrument to shine and ultimately resulting in a powerful, yet cohesive, sound.
The iconic track ‘Dragonlord,’ which is one of the band’s most aspirational and intricate compositions to date, appears on the tracklist. Other standouts include ‘As Mist Lay Silent Beneath,’ ‘Pain Humanised,’ and ‘Agnen,’ which display the band’s unique musical vision.
Keep of Kalessin’s lineup has shifted over the years, with Obsidian C. remaining the only constant member. On April 3rd, 2006, the band released their highly lauded third full-length album, ‘Armada,’ on the label Indie Recordings. The album symbolizes a return to the band’s roots, with the band jettisoning the more progressive sound of their previous album, ‘Agnen: A Journey Through the Dark,’ in favor of a more traditional black metal sound with an atmospheric aura.
Eleven tracks of intense and atmospheric black metal comprise the album. The songwriting is dark and aggressive, while preserving the band’s melodic sensibilities unchanged. The production is raw and powerful, lending the album an overwhelming feeling of strength and sharpness.
Among the tracks on the album is the title track, ‘Armada,’ which is one of the band’s most spectacular and thrilling compositions to date. Other standout tracks include ‘Into the Fire,’ ‘Crown of the Kings,’ and ‘The Wealth of Darkness,’ each of which showcase the band’s organic ability to create memorable and wrathful melodies.
‘Armada’ was originally released on Tabu Records, whereas a double vinyl set was released on Back on Black Records. The album sees the return of drummer Vyl, as well as new bassist Wizziac and vocalist Thebon. It was well received by critics and helped to strengthen Keep of Kalessin’s position as one of Norway’s premier metal bands. The album is still regarded as a landmark in the extreme metal genre today.
On June 6th, 2008, they released ‘Kolossus,’ which further refined their sound. Keep of Kalessin’s fourth full-length album, ‘Kolossus,’ was released through Nuclear Blast Records in collaboration with Tabu Productions. The album proceeds the band’s black metal sound but is stiffer and more confrontational than their previous release, ‘Armada.’
The album includes nine tracks of ferocious black metal. With relentless blast beats, bombastic guitars, and guttural vocals, the songs are intense and fast-paced. The production is raw and powerful, lending the album a tremendous sense of power and intensity, as well as a distinct blend of belligerence and chord progressions.
Keep of Kalessin released ‘Reptilian,’ their fifth full-length album on Indie Recordings alongside Nuclear Blast Records on May 10th, 2010, and their first album in two years.
Eight tracks of intense and atmospheric black metal comprise the album. The songwriting is dark and aggressive yet melodic and expansive, transporting the listener through a wide range of moods and tones.
‘Epistemology,’ the band’s sixth full-length album, was released on February 16th, 2015, by Indie Recordings and Nuclear Blast Records. The band constructs on the progressive and melodic elements of their previous album, ‘Reptilian,’ while also incorporating more technical and intense sections on this album. Ten tracks of pure black metal fury represent the album. The songwriting is ambitious and intricate while sustaining the band’s trademark aggressive and melodic elements.
Keep of Kalessin has revealed the title and track listing for their seventh studio album, ‘Katharsis.’ The album, which will be released on March 24th by Morningstar Music and Back on Black Records, is expected to be full of their signature melodies and atmospherics.
‘Katharsis,’ appears to be another masterpiece, encompassing nine tracks of pure black metal bloodlust. The Norwegian extreme metal band has already established a reputation for their intense and impactful sound, and ‘Katharsis’ appears to be no different.
The album’s production is said to be harsh and potent, giving it a tremendous sense of authority and amplitude. ‘Katharsis’ is expected to contain some of the band’s most intricate and ambitious songwriting to date, with the title track standing out.
‘Through Times Of War,’ ‘Agnen: A Journey Through The Dark,’ ‘Armada,’ ‘Kolossus,’ ‘Reptilian,’ and ‘Epistemology’ are also included in a 6-CD anthology box set. The anthology will soon be available through our shop for pre-order and will provide fans with a comprehensive look at Keep of Kalessin’s musical journey.
‘Katharsis’ looks set to be another classic in the extreme metal genre. With its intricate and ambitious songwriting, powerful production, and intense sound, Katharsis looks like it will be a must-listen for metal fans. Be sure to pick up your copy on 24 March.