Sometimes when there’s not much exciting things going on in terms of releases I have a look through every metalhead’s favourite site – Metal Archives – and click on a few bands with alluring-sounding names. What makes them alluring? I don’t know. They just stick out for some reason as… interesting. I clicked on Katharos partly because the name looks Greek and that’s inviting and because it says symphonic black metal, which can’t possibly be bad, right?
The Swedes are releasing their second album, “Of Lineages Long Forgotten,” (which, again, is a good title) and it’s been six years since their their debut. A very long time for a band not yet established in the scene. Still, Katharos clearly took the time to develop their ideas as this is definitely not an album that feels rushed, but instead gives you the feeling a rather meticulous project. Opening with “Those Hornclad” the band doesn’t ease you into the record, but instead punches you with a strong sound that feels modern and engaging, but not overbearing or too chaotic.
The song opens with a march and a battle horn that set the tone nicely, but it’s quickly apparent it’s the drums that really take the lead on this album. Tatu Kerttula, who also joined Wormwood in 2021, is extremely relentless with his pounding of the drumkit and his playing sounds very tight. In contrast, I do wish the vocals were a bit more frontal as they do get drowned out a bit too much by the instrumentals, all of which tend to present a very technical playing style. While the melody isn’t neglected there is that modern feel to the sound, which reminds me a bit of last year’s debut by Iotunn – an album that was very well received in the metal scene.
The band does flirt with some proggy elements as well as the symphonic touches as their genre listed on Metal Archives would suggest – but the latter are not very apparent and honestly they don’t seem to add that much to their sound. The comparison between Katharos and a band like Carach Angren is jarring, as the Dutch horror masters really interweave the symphonics into their sound whereas they’re just sort of present on “Of Lineages Long Forgotten.” The titular track is definitely one that stands out, while I’m also rather partial to “I Waged War,” which does have a really militaristic feel as the title would suggest (vague “Forward! by Anaal Nathrakh vibes) and that’s something I’m always happy to hear in extreme metal.
The album doesn’t really have obvious weak points, but it also lacks some diversity, particularly on the vocal front. That again ties into the vocals being just a bit too quiet in the mix, although so-called musical nerds will probably enjoy the pounding drums and guitars being more front and centre in the band’s sound. Is it the best way to gain a following and become a bigger band though? Probably not.
Definitely an interesting second release from Katharos which will likely be well-received overall. I do like that the band is clearly professional and put a lot of effort into this release – hopefully they stay on this path and come out with the next album in less than six years. However, I do think their sound might get lost amidst the plethora of other extreme bands and I wish they would find a way to include more symphonics and thus really create a unique sound that the band could be recognised by.
Release Date: 13th May 2022
Label: Willowtip Records
1. Those Hornclad
2. Feigned Retreat
3. Of Lineages Long Forgotten
4. The World Serpent’s Marrow
5. Lay Yersinian Siege
6. I Waged War
7. Most Dread Portent