Over the course of more than 20 years, black metallers Kampfar have always been one of the genre’s most understated acts; certainly one never reaching the acclaim or, of course, the headlines of some of their brethren of that period. Despite all this, these Norwegians have always had an air for taking black metal to new boundaries and territories, often with stunning results. On their latest album Profan (Indie Recordings), they showcase this even further, concluding the recent trilogy of albums to a flourishing finale.
Having been a part of the burgeoning Norwegian black metal scene in the early 90’s, Kampfar expectedly show much of that common sound, but they aren’t afraid to merge it extra traits, or inject it with contemporary production values. Take album opener ‘Gloria Ablaze’ which almost instantly shows the blistering fury and blastbeat driven pace that the genre is synonymous with, before it interjects with moments of grandeur, bellowing clean vocals and an epic atmosphere. The proceeding ‘Profanum’ similarly brings in a crawling, doom like slower passage bookended between pacier parts. Their use of unconventional and traditional instrumentation is present as well, from the ominous orchestral introduction to ‘Icons’ to the use of didgeridoo on ‘Daimons’.
At its core, this holds much of the structure and sound typically assigned to black metal, but it has nuances, both obvious and less so, throughout which make this a deeper listen than it first appears. Kampfar are a band that aren’t completely reinventing the wheel when it comes to black metal, but who are pushing it to further expanses and borders than many would dare to.