Khors – Return to Abandoned (Paragon Records)

Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Not to be confused with the American beer with the same pronunciation (Coors is disgusting, by the way), Ukrainian black metal combo Khors return with the follow-up to 2008’s sturdy Mysticism in the form of Return to Abandoned. Demonstrating a noticeable step-up in terms of production and sound, Khors is steadily becoming a force in the atmospheric black metal scene, an area severely lacking in new prospects.

Borrowing from the style’s natural components (wishy-washy keyboards, the occasional melodic burst and epic song structures), Khors keep things interesting (and ultimately majestic) throughout this 8-song offering. Shades ofElegy-era Amorphis appear on album highlight “Song of the Void,” as 70s-inspired keyboards mesh nicely with the band’s steady stream of melodic chords.

Perhaps the strongest point of reference for Khors would be modern-day, albeit a more extreme Thyrfing, who are just as inclined to drop in those brooding, dark riffs (see: “The Fog (…and the Grief Still Moans)”) to extra effect. In fact, it’s this juxtaposition between concrete, graven black metal and the atmospheric channels of a Thyrfing or even Moonsorrow that make cuts like “The Seas Burn of Omnipotence” (awesome title, by the way) and the blast-happy “Asgard’s Shining” winners. Extra points were added to this review for the simple lack of hokey folk instrumentation and dearth of clean vocals. Score.

Another great find on the emerging Paragon Records, Khors is one of the better prospects on the atmospheric black metal front in recent memory. Because they operate without the mindless and oft-overbearing sense of predominance and overt “epic-ness” their contemporaries do, Khors should easily be able to build upon Return to Abandoned. There’s a lot to digest here, and there’s something for everyone. Even you, the ever-hard-to-please BM basement dweller.

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