Khors – Wisdom of Centuries (Candlelight Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Drudkh – in their infinite and snow-covered mountainous glory – aren’t the only black metal band from the Ukraine worth fussing over. Obviously, Khors is the other and if their countrymen weren’t so imposing and majestic, they’d be the first name in Ukrainian black metal. And there’s no real signpost for Khors like Burzum is for Drudkh; rather Khors is their own secular entity and band that should be taken seriously thanks to the strength of their fourth full-length,Wisdom of Centuries.

Eight songs in this lot, although curiously, four are instrumentals, none of which go past the three-minute mark. A bit of a head-scratcher, for most black metal bands find any excuse to slide in an atmospheric interlude to break up the running order. At any rate, Khors’ ability to blend all eras of black metal is thrust to the fore on more than a few occasions here, specifically on “Black Forest’s Flaming Eyes,” a song that clicks thanks to a slow, curdling atmospheric verse, and a handful of full-frontal, primal BM riff-action.

“The Last Leaves” finds the Ukrainians headed down a melodic path that ends up being the album’s highwater mark, thanks in large part to a starling dissonant, speed-picking section around the 2:59 mark. Elsewhere, the band finds restrain in “Horizing Glassy,” one of the four instrumentals included, while “The Only Time Will It Take Away” serves as Wisdom of Centuries’ most climatic moment, volleying between sparse guitar chimes and roaring mid-90’s black metal.

More than just the alternative to Drudkh, Khors’ full-on assault on the black metal template is what makes Wisdom of Centuries such a success. There’s variety to the hilt here, furthermore, songs with character and the sort of the genuine artistry that is has become a lost art in the black metal scene.

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