“The dark fire will not avail you.“
Alright so the Bridge of Khazad-dûm ran over the abyss of Moria and… *closes wiki page* of course I knew this before hearing about the unfortunately named brutal death metal band Khazaddum because I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan. It was the bridge where Gandalf (sexy~) fought a Balrog and they clashed as they both fell through said abyss. There are few things I love more than Tolkien minutiae and world-building, as much as folks poop on appropriated stuff like Shadow of Mordor and such I just freaking eat it all up. Not so much for nostalgia’s sake but loving the perfect fantasy worlds details. ‘Plagues Upon Arda’ isn’t the first Tolkien themed metal album I’ve heard, which is somewhat surprising considering I avoid most power metal, but it does have a lot to live up to in its service to the mythology alongside bands like Burzum, Cirith Ungol, and Summoning. Hold up this band doesn’t sound even slightly like any of those three and the skittering brutal death metal drums and twisted riffing immediately point towards bands like Nile, Kronos, and very slight nods towards Fleshgod Apocalypse.
I’m not sure if this band has fully developed a signature sound yet as the death metal core of their sound is more or less mired in some very popular Nile albums. I don’t at all mean that as a reductive insult, it’s just where my mind goes while listening to it. The symphonic/keyboardy moments tend to take me in an entirely different direction which helps bring me back to realm of high fantasy with layered synth/keyboard stuff that resembles a middle-earth inspired Ancient Rites. If you want a 40 minute blast of mid-00’s era brutal death metal with some technical riffing and occasional keyboard moments thrown in, this is more or less that. ‘Plagues Upon Arda’ took me back to a time when this sort of thing was more novel and labels like Century Media would sign them and turn them into dark, gothy fools that sounded like Behemoth. That said, I really enjoyed this record and it shows a lot of promise for things to come from the band. If they double down on the weirdness of brutal/technical death smashed up with the grandiosity of the keyboard-twiddling I think they’ll be onto something pretty crazy. I’d write more but I think I’d need a lyric sheet next time. Guuurrrghh!