Kawir is one of the more notable long running projects from the early days of Greece’s infamous black metal insurgence. The main force behind the band, Therthonax, is the only surviving member from the band’s early 90’s inception and he has largely been the mastermind behind the band with different waves of supporting cast appearing in both ~2008 and 2015. The bands earliest work resembled something more akin to what you’d expect from that time and place, with their style leaning towards a mix of Varathron‘s occult black metal riffing and Rotting Christ‘s more aggressive melody and offset rhythms. The 2008 line-up reformed as a multi-national group and the project took on new life that explored pagan black metal and folk metal styles, leading up to my favorite era of the band with the ‘To Uranus’ EP in 2010 and the amazing ‘Isotheos’ in 2012. I thought the band might have imploded with a full reset on the band’s line-up in 2015, now made up of 100% Greek members, but it appears Therthonax had chosen to take serious creative control over the band and lead Kawir to greater glory.
They suddenly released ‘Father Sun-Mother Moon’ (Πάτερ Ήλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα) in 2016 an album that seemed to reflect upon Kawir’s 20 year output as a whole and instead of expanding on their more recent folk/black/pagan metal style, they put out a record that better reflected their heritage and sonic personality as a whole. It was a fast, aggressive record that took melodic detours to epic excesses. It expressed a spirituality and heavy metal pride that transcends a lot of the more feeble pseudo-nationalist pagan black metal posturing and celebrated ‘folk metal’ elements without ever sounding trite or soft. After being so impressed, I had low expectations for this new record. I’m generally cynical that a band can hold interest across three full-lengths with such a short turnaround. Instead, one year later, ‘Exilasmos’ (Εξιλασμός) is perhaps the best, most balanced recording from Kawir to date.
With an album titled to suggest appeasing the gods it seems Kawir’s heroic black metal poetry seeks to celebrate artistic cultural achievement and ancient Greek religion. It reads as a warning against human atrocities in history that invoked mythical wrath of the gods. My own unsuccessful lyrical extrapolation aside, their attempt to invoke heroism and pride is entrancing as it takes form through melodic/pagan black metal. Wherever black metal might go with futuristic takes, experimentation and extreme mutations I still think this form of Hellenic black metal holds the most powerful message and melodic inspiration. That said, ‘Exilasmos’ invokes a more concise set of songs that don’t rely so much on the epic scale of the previous album. This makes it much easier to endorse this as essential listening just one year later because the approach is even more effective without any identical melody or indulgences.
So, having been a dedicated fan of this band over nearly a decade I can’t say that being entrenched in their φ doesn’t make me inclined to fawn over this new album. I will say that I wasn’t expecting much and instead got one of my top 10 albums of the year and I couldn’t be happier heading into a dark winter with this inspirational black metal album at my side.
|Released||November 3, 2017|
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