Ladies and germs, we have come to that time of year where we prepare for the holidays. Trees are cut down and decorated garishly, propped up in living rooms for approximately one month before being tossed aside or used as kindling in your fiery pits of Hades (way more metal than saying “using the tree as firewood,” eh?). Everyone ends up at a heavily-congested shopping outlet to buy things for others just one day removed from being thankful for what we all have. Oh, and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. But us writers? We’re putting together our lists, checking them twice, and solidifying them for all to see. And of course, some of these November and December releases have a tendency to harsh our year-end-list mellow. Does German black metal duo Kvltist have the chops to usurp my solidified year-end collection of subjective metal importance with their debut, Catechesis?
Short answer? No. But that’s not to say that Catechesis isn’t interesting at parts. “The Devil’s Catechumen” kicks things off with about a half-minute of ambient noises before launching properly. Vocalist Amon Xul mostly stays in a lower, almost death-metal growl throughout the song, helping him to stand out among his blackened peers a bit. His voice reminds me a bit of Nergal’s (Behemoth), which isn’t a bad thing. Musically, multi-instrumentalist MZI borrowf heavily from the sounds of Gorgoroth and Deathspell Omega, as there’s a lot of angular, jangly melodies strewn about inside all that speed, but thankfully he knows how to incorporate breathing space, allowing the song to be more effective.
Where Kvltist are most effective is in their weirder, uncomfortable moments. “Darkest Light From Glaring Shadows” goes from glaring speed to… moaning. Yep, moaning. Two minutes into the song, MZI and Amon Xul give some creepy moans and sighs over a thumping bass and drums. Closing track “Ite Ad Ignis” is half blazing black metal with raspier vocals, and half ambience. Standout track “Oblation” succeeds in being a nine-minute song that doesn’t feel like a nine-minute song at all, due to its variety and intensity, starting as a neat doom/black hybrid before slicing and dicing with venomous Nightbringer-like contempt. However, the rest of the album doesn’t hit as hard or leave a lasting impression.
Soundwise, Catechesis is refreshingly dynamic and surprisingly warm, especially in the bass guitars. The guitars sound just a hair thin, but black metal was never known for having a thick low-end in the six-string, anyways. The vocals serve as a nice layer and not a distraction. What is a bit distracting is the lack of hooks in some of the compositions. Other than the aforementioned tracks, Catechesis just floats on at times. Thankfully, those aforementioned tracks are pretty damn good.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Catechesis, and although it didn’t re-arrange my year-end list, it gave me another band to check out in the future. There is promise with Kvltist, and I will keep an eye out for them in the future. For now, you’re going to pardon me. I have to cat-proof our Garishly-Decorated Yule Tree of the Fallen.