Season Of Mist, August 2014
8/10 – Review by Jabawock.
For those yet unfamiliar with Blood of Kingu, this band is often regarded as the spiritual successor of the mighty Hate Forest. Hailing from Ukraine, this band harbors the same lineup as Roman Saenko’s main band Drudkh, with the exception of the drummer. Released at the end of August on Season of Mist, Dark Star (for short) is their third opus since the foundation of the band in 2005.
The music of Blood of Kingu focuses mostly on aggression with a dark, shamanic-like atmosphere. Whereas Hate Forest and other similar bands such as Walknut and Ygg tend to use riff repetition in a traditional black metal fashion, creating an epic feel, here the accent is not so much on the riffs themselves but a combination of elements, amounting to an almost oppressive mix of brutality and occult. The end result feels somewhat closer to the realm of Black/Death, than to more traditional Black Metal soundscapes, despite borrowing very few Death Metal musical elements in the composition.
And so, without surprises, this album offers us a fast, aggressive blend of black metal with low-pitched vocals, intertwined with shamanic/ethnic elements, which have been present since the band’s debut. Those signature vocals by Roman are, for me, the highlight of this album. He has a rather specific style, producing those very powerful “low screams”, which have always been part of the sonic identity of Hate Forest, and are as good as ever on this release. It’s always a treat to hear them!
The rest of the music is also on-par with the previous effort from this band; guitar riffs are fast, a bit more complex than before, and the drumming is mostly uncompromising blasting throughout the album. The shamanic elements are used in intros and interludes, but also within songs, mostly in the form of percussions and traditional instruments (or keyboards emulating them) played in very low key. During the songs, those elements are blended-in perfectly with the drums and guitars, without feeling out-of-place at all. This gives Blood of Kingu a unique touch, making their music perfectly recognizable among other bands, even the musicians’ other projects.
Looking back at the band’s previous album, Sun in the House of Scorpio, Black Star feels a bit less interesting, less inspired to me. The riffs stand out less, and the drums are more monotonous. Because of this, it is difficult to pick out highlight tracks from this album, at least from the first listens. I had the same feeling with its predecessor, but it is even more the case here. All this didn’t prevent me from enjoying this release though!
In conclusion, Black Star is a solid album with a distinctive sound, and I would definitely recommend it to all fans of Roman’s work. It can also appeal to fans of occult Black/Death Metal, as it has a somewhat similar atmosphere. If you are not yet familiar with Blood of Kingu, I would rather recommend the previous album before this one as an introduction to their music, although both are definitely of high quality.