Bizarre Norwegian black metal killers Khold finally resurface with catchy, crushing ‘Til Endes’

KholdThere are absolute truths about Nordic black metal band Khold. First, they’re really strange, which you can tell right away just by looking at their promo photos. Second, they do the black metal/rock n roll thing about as well as anyone ever has, and it’s been a long damn wait to get something new from the band.

But, behold! Khold’s latest opus “Til Endes” is upon us, and as usual, I still can’t understand a damn word they’re saying because I haven’t smartened up enough to learn any other language competently other than English. But sometimes a great album with monster hooks and devastating melodies catapults over that pesky language barrier, and this new eight-cut record does just that. We haven’t heard from this face-painted, strange band in six long years, since they dropped “Hundre ar Gammal” on our heads in 2008, and in that time, their members have kept busy in other places. Most of them have plied their trade with Tulus, though drummer Sarke has made a mark with his self-named band and even invaded Maryland Deathfest this year. OK, back to Khold, who deserve our undivided attention.

Khold cover“Til Endes,” the band’s sixth release ever since forming in 2000 is one of their catchiest. Yeah, that might not sound very cult, right? It’s supposed to be charred, dark, ugly, clearly evil? OK, well, it’s not, and who cares? I’d say these guys rival Entombed and Immortal as finding ways to add accessibility and fun to their music, and every moment of this thing just drips with energy. Go ahead and try to avoid getting caught up in it. You’ll fail. Maybe credit vocalist/guitarist Gard, guitarist Rinn, bassist Crowbel, and Sarke (don’t forget shadowy fifth member Hildr, Gard’s wife who writes the lyrics) with putting out a spirited record that brims with life, even if their sound and look is buried in death and morbidity. I can’t stop listening to this record, and it’s been in my ears regularly since getting the promo several months ago.

The album starts with the awesome “Myr,” as its razor-sharp lead guitar riff burns their way into your skin and the melodies stick to your ribs. The song, like most on here, is catchy as hell, and the guys sell it full bore. Good luck getting the chorus out of your head, by the way, even if that just means the thrashing stays with you. “Skogens uye” pierces from the start, with the guitars chugging and doing their best to do some melodic damage and the group hitting on a killer groove. There’s a Dakthrone-style gallop that rises up toward the end, driving up even more dust, and the tempo is absolutely surging. “Ravnestrupe” grinds up early, with raucous riffs and some thick bass playing. The verses are ugly and nearly infernal, and then they meet up with punishing rhythms and harsh growls that work ideally together. It’s the perfect amount of speed and chewy tastiness. “Dommens Arme” is the big surprise of the record, and an astute listener should catch on pretty easily. It’s the band’s reworking of Sepultura classic “Troops of Doom,” and it’s a great take on the track with their own black metal stylings splashed over this beast. They do some serious trucking here. This is the second great cover of this track this year, as Pittsburgh doom-death institution Derketa also put their bloody fingerprints on the song.

The swirling title cut is up next, with melodies that should cause heads to swing on necks hard and in windmill fashion. These guys really dig into the grime on this one, with the guitars chugging away and Gard’s vocals a gurgly high point, especially driving home the simplistic chorus. “Det Dunkle Dyp” is another one of those tracks so clingy, they stick to you long after the record’s over. The guitars are sweltering, the tempo is a little more restrained in spots, and again, the chorus makes its mark most effectively. It does kick things into higher gear here and there, but the best moments are the more calculating ones. “Avund” has a dissonant beginning, as the guys pound away and achieve a strange atmosphere. The track definitely is more in the rock n roll vein than anything, and there are some interesting progressions that should keep you guessing. Closer “Hengitt” opens with mud-thick bass before giving way to a nasty guitar riff and the band building to a really strong blow up. Once the song ignites, the band knifes full steam ahead, with guitars dripping darkness, the vocals a throaty violent, and the drums beaten to a pulp. They hit on more tremendous grooves that should get your fists moving no matter what you’re doing, and they kick up the intensity even further over the final minutes of the song, making sure you’re both rocked and reeling. I’ve more than once hit repeat as soon as this record ended, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing the same. It’s that good.

Yes, this thing is catchy, thrashy, fun, and pretty well produced. Those are things at which many black metal fans turn their corpse-painted noses, but doing so means you’ll miss out on one of the year’s most pleasurable listens. These guys have a great formula, sound like they had plenty of heathen-like fun making it, and are at no shortage for inspiration. Maybe six years is a long time to wait, but I’ll handle it every time if we keep getting Khold records as damn good as “Til Ended.”

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