ALBUM REVIEW: Katharos – Of Lineages Long Forgotten

Swedish symphonic black metal act Katharos return with a couple of tweaks to their line-up for Of Lineages Long Forgotten (Willowtip Records) their second full length album since forming back in 2006. Guitarist Max Müssbichler straps on the bass as well as taking care of his usual six string obligations for this record while drummer Tatu Kerttula makes his first studio appearance since joining the band in 2019.

The first of seven darkly complex compositions in the vein of Emperor and early Dimmu Borgir, ‘Those Hornclad’ opens with the sound of horns and military marching before unleashing a torrent of sinister black metal riffs and slashing vocals. Blastbeats and tremolo picking combine with devastating groove-fuelled sections and the searing vocals of frontman Richard Annerhall, the song featuring more time changes than a bank holiday railway timetable.

‘Feigned Retreat’ surges and blasts with a clever ear for structure and melody, the orchestral backing used to great effect before the nine-minute title track detonates with cinematic and precise militaristic brutality. Some sections coming close to breaking the sound barrier, others causing more damage than a nuclear explosion in your back garden.

‘The World Serpent’s Marrow’, eight-minute monster ‘Lay Yersinian Siege’ and the ferocious ‘I Waged War’ gnash their teeth with unrelenting, pneumatic savagery while also revealing a melodic side reinforced with perfectly weighted orchestration, scything riffs and Christofer Sköld‘s moody keyboards. The slow and punishing funereal grind of closer ‘Most Dread Portent’ is bolstered by symphonic backing and huge drums, and is a fitting end to a masterful display of wanton nihilism.

Featuring backing vocals by fellow Swede Robin “Rob the slob” Westlund from death metal perverts Repuked, Of Lineages Long Forgotten is a well-produced and intelligently constructed record, seething with vicious intent but tempered by moments of restraint and subtlety. Possessing all the indiscriminate barbarity fans have come to expect but also displaying impressive technicality and a keen progressive eye, the future for Katharos looks beautifully black.

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7 / 10