Genre: Black Metal
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
The all-pervading psychosis of Greek Mythology with tragedy is one of its most intriguing characteristics. From Antigone to Ajax Telamon and his suicide, Greece’s mythic terrain is sown with persons hunted by fate. Kawir, on their seventh full-length aptly (and slightly ironically) named “Exilasmos”, deal with six tragic figures from mythology, one in each of the album’s tracks. The first three (“Lykaon”, “Oedipus”, “Tantalus”) are more or less conceptually autonomous, but “side B” is Kawir’s tribute to the house of Atreides, one of the more damned families of the ancient Greek world; the band follows the house through the generations, from Thyestes, to Agamemnon and the Orestes. All of this lies under an exqusite cover painting which grasps the title’s spirit.
As I had written in the Athenians’ previous album review, the band will always be marked by the mighty “Isotheos” of 2012 – which is, since its release, the balance weight against which each new album will be weighted. Thankfully, with “Exilasmos” (as they did with the previous album) the band does not try to confront directly the aforementioned masterpiece. While in their previous record they turned towards a more folky approach, in this one Kawir focus on amore introvert compositional approach, imbuing themselves with a quantity of pure heavy (mainly epic) metal elements.
An axiom: if Kawir know one thing, this is writing riffs. Riffs which are steeped in the intermingling of early Greek black metal sound with the Norwegian frostblizzards of the ’90s. Though there are several mid-tempo moments with a slight, elegant grooveness (which also gazes upon traditional elements), the album really shines in the torrential blast beat moments which resemble in an ideal way the ravenous wings of Fate above the heroes’ heads. The mid-tempo rhythms are somewhat predictable, yet the guitars that permeate them twist into pretty substantial melodies. Along with the band’s familiar black metal vocals, here lie hymnal entourages which grant an epic character to the creation – Bathory’s influence is evident and very welcome, both in hymn vocals and the majestic parts of “Agamemnon.” Each of the album’s songs has its own special character, each managing to touch something of its namesake hero’s personality. Under this viewpoint, I’d say that my favourite tracks are the desperate “Orestes” and the imperial “Agamemnon.” Finally, as far as lyrics are concerned, Kawir use a structurally modern language which is graced with ancient words and phrases. Thus the end result does not seem fossilized and the raw edges (word-wise) help the listener’s/reader’s immersion.
In conclusion, with “Exilasmos” Kawir continue a steady stream of good albums which has been going on for years. Here we have what is perhaps the more introvert and less loaded creation of theirs; mythological black metal with an emphasis to aspects of the human soul such as hubris, arrogance, and the feebleness of man against fate. Imbued with generous quantities of epic heavy metal and melody, this is an album with much interest hidden inside (as well as lots of despair).