Album Review – Katharos XIII / Negativity (2017)

After the 56 minutes of intense and pensive Depressive Suicidal Black Metal thoroughly crafted by this Romanian quartet reach deep into your soul, you’ll never be the same again.

Born in 2007 in the city of Timișoara, the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania located around 550km northwest of the capital Bucharest, and functioned in the early days as a one-man band until de beginning of the recordings of the demo Silver Melancholy in late 2008, self-released in 2009, Depressive Suicidal Black Metal act Katharos XIII return after their 2011 debut Dead Emotions with their second full-length installment, titled Negativity, comprised of seven tracks emerged from the dark chambers of human psyche, questions and deep melancholy into black chords, a truly unique combination of different layers and influences.

Featuring a somber artwork by Romanian artist Alexandru Das (Argus Megere, North, Ordinul Negru), Negativity offers the listener an amalgamation of personal experiences (all kinds of abuse, paranoia, severe depressions), strange stories, movies (Greenaway, Lynch) and books (Eliade, Cioran, Zola), all thoroughly put together by the talented F on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Andrei on guitars, SQ on bass and Sabbat on drums, resulting in a unique experience of extreme music for admirers of the genre. And if you feel your heart got darker after listening to the album’s 56 minutes of intense and pensive Black Metal, that means Katharos XIII succeeded in sending you the desired message through their disturbing music.

Opening the album on a high note we have XIII, a modern approach to Black Metal sounding very melodic and epic thanks to the excellent guitars by F and Andrei, with the devilish gnarls by F bringing more obscurity to the overall result. Moreover, its riffs get to a very traditional mode halfway through it, while the song’s atmosphere keeps growing in intensity and mystery, flowing to an ominous ending led by the demonic vociferations by F. Slightly different than its predecessor, the title-track Negativity goes full Black Metal, overflowing blast beats, flammable riffs and infernal growls, also presenting elements from Atmospheric Black Metal and Doom Metal, not to mention its disturbing lyrics (“Burn in the kingdom of the blind / A garden that cannot be seen / By the ones who ignore the creation / The path of the eternal self-torment”) and its beyond somber break.

The steady beats by Sabbat together with the darkened keys by F create a truly somber ambience in No One Left to Lead the Way, a perfect fusion of Black Metal with Blackened Doom supported by a strong harmonious background, flowing into a smooth but very obscure ending; followed by The Chains are so Beautiful, where a melancholic and grim beginning led by Sabbat with his sluggish beats and bassist SQ with his low-tuned roars gradually leans towards old school Doom Metal, supporting the very macabre spoken words by F (“I will tell you a story / Stories as we all like to hear / The amphetamine has won the game / Enslaving the pain inside soul / Close your eyes and sleep tight / While the angels watch you closely / Nothing bad to happen to you / Only to fall into their arms”), before exploding into visceral and deranged Black Metal until its introspective finale.

Spearheaded by the piercing riffs by Andrei, World’s Coffin sounds like a blackened waltz, with F grasping his words bestially, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir. Furthermore, the bass by SQ keeps rumbling in a demonic way in the background, topped with a soulful solo by Andrei. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path brings forward a serene and contemplative intro, generating a comforting but at the same time perturbing ambience where F instead of growling simply grasps in a vile manner. Not only that, tempestuous moments are thoroughly inserted in this Blackened Doom aria, with the beautiful work done by Andrei and SQ with their strings taking you to a dark dimension ruled by Katharos XIII. Lastly, closing this amazing album of extreme music the band offers a darkened assault titled Inside, with Sabbat pounding his drums vigorously while Andrei blasts straightforward demonic riffs, reaching an epic and reverberating stage before the song’s climatic and violent conclusion.

In other words, are you prepared to have your mortal soul embraced in the endless darkness crafted by Katharos XIII? If you can’t wait for that to happen, then you should definitely visit Katharos XIII on Facebook to know more about this distinct Romanian band, and purchase your copy of Negativity through the Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webshop, as well as at Discogs. As mentioned before, after listening to Negativity, you’ll never be the same again, and all you’ll have to do is to thank this amazing Romanian quartet for such unique experience of dark and mournful sounds.

Best moments of the album: XIII, Negativity and World’s Coffin.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. XIII 9:50
2. Negativity 6:13
3. No One Left to Lead the Way 6:24
4. The Chains are so Beautiful 8:21
5. World’s Coffin 5:58
6. I Die Everytime I Walk This Path 12:03
7. Inside 7:16

Band members
F – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Andrei – guitars
SQ – bass
Sabbat – drums

Album Review – Gothic / Demons (2017)

One of the most respected bands in the history of Romanian metal powerfully unleashes their “demons” upon mankind with their heavy and melodic new album.

Rating4

gothic-demonsEstablished back in 1992 by guitarist and singer Alin Petrut in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Romania, Melodic Death Metal band Gothic has quickly become one of the most respected metal bands in the country, having played alongside giants like Manowar, Dimmu Borgir, Europe, Korpiklaani, Gojira and Napalm Death, among many others. Even after changing the band’s name to Ali(e)n and then to Innerfire in 2003 when Alin re-located the band to Belgium, the band kept building a strong reputation among metalheads all over Europe, returning to their hometown Petrosani in 2005 again under the name Gothic (as a separate entity from the still-active Innerfire) and culminating with their participation in the 2012 edition of Wacken Open Air after winning the Romanian finals of Wacken Metal Battle that year.

Exactly 25 years after the band’s inception, Alin and his Gothic are back with Demons, their first full-length album since their 2013 release Expect the Worst. Displaying a darkly beautiful artwork by the band’s own bassist Csaba “Taly” Talpai, and featuring for the first time George Lazar on harsh vocals and Vlad Golgotiu on drums, Demons is definitely Gothic’s most professional and multilayered album to date, blending the classic sonority from the band’s extensive career together with fresh new elements from modern metal music. After listening to this cohesive and melodic album, it won’t be hard for you to understand why Gothic play such an important part in the history of Romanian metal.

In the opening track Shadow Man you’ll quickly notice their musicality is not really “Gothic” as the band’s name states, but fast, melodic and aggressive music, a great mix of traditional Death Metal with contemporary Melodic Death Metal where Alin delivers some sick, heavy riffs while George blasts pure fury through his guttural growls; followed by the excellent Disillusion, also exhibiting a similar Heavy/Death Metal hybrid vibe. This song presents a good headbanging pace with neck-breaking riffs by Alin, getting symphonic and futuristic at times due to the spot-on keyboards by Florian Lysy, not to mention its vengeful lyrics (“We grew apart / Betrayed our hearts / Our souls are black / Our minds are flack / You wanted that / Now take it back in your face”).

gothicIn the first single of the album, the title-track Demons, Alin, Taly and Vlad add a lot of groove and heaviness to the musicality, setting the stage for George to growl even deeper, feeling like a mix of Hard Rock with Gothic, Doom and Melodic Death Metal ideal for the song’s lyrics (“I feel their breath inside my dream / The darkness stains around me / A web of black, surrounding scent / The night is growing senseless.”). In Catacombs, which starts in a pleasant, harmonious and exciting way with Taly blasting a thunderous sound from his bass guitar, we face a magnificent balance between the havoc generated by all band members and the extremely melodic guitar solos and keyboards, whereas in Time, an upbeat composition by Alin and his henchmen, Vlad delivers precision and anger through his beats, and despite losing a bit of its electricity in the end it’s still a very enjoyable song.

Destroying the Masses, a powerful chant where Gothic displays their darkest side, brings forward a menacing atmosphere and deep guttural vocals closer to old school Death Metal, while modernity comes from the metallic riffs by Alin. And it seems the band really wants to crush our necks with their sick riffs and beats in From Within, with elements from traditional Heavy Metal added to its Melodic Death Metal sonority to make it even more harmonious. Last but not least we have A New End, a melancholic and passionate composition sung entirely in Romanian (which in my opinion is an interesting variation from the rest of the album) and featuring guest vocalist Klaus Pardos, offering the listener the heaviest version of modern Hard Rock you can think of.

Are you ready to face the heavy music engendered by these talented Romanian demons? If your answer is yes, you can follow all things Gothic at their official Facebook page and check their latest videos (including some fun tour diaries) at their YouTube channel, as well as purchase Demons at Loud Rage Music’s BandCamp or webstore. Gothic are unleashing their high-end Melodic Death Metal upon mankind with their brand new album, and if I were you I wouldn’t miss this great opportunity to get in touch with the music by such respected underground band.

Best moments of the album: Disillusion, Catacombs and Destroying the Masses.

Worst moments of the album: Time.

Released in 2017 Loud Rage Music

Track listing
1. Shadow Man 5:01
2. Disillusion 5:42
3. Demons 3:53
4. Catacombs 6:04
5. Time 4:55
6. Destroying the Masses 4:34
7. From Within 4:04
8. A New End (feat. Klaus Pardos) 5:13

Band members
Alin Petrut – guitar, clean vocals
George Lazar – harsh vocals
Csaba “Taly” Talpai – bass
Vlad Golgotiu – drums

Guest musician
Florian Lysy – keyboards
Klaus Pardos – vocals on “A New End”