Album Review: Katharos – “Of Lineages Long Forgotten” (Symphonic Black Metal)

Written by: Valkyrjiaa

>Release Date: May 13th, 2022
>Symphonic Black Metal from Stockholm, Sweden
>Label: Willowtip Records
>FFO: Emperor and Dimmu Borgir
>Katharos Bandcamp

With the thunder of drums, and the march of dread foretelling our doom, Katharos unleash their sophomore album ‘Of Lineages Long Forgotten’ offering us a delectable take on Symphonic Black Metal with intricate and feverish composition. Recorded in the well-known Necromorbus Studio, this album commands attention without pausing to dedicate creation to one aspect or another. It’s an album that easily transitions from majesty to terror, drawing us in with brilliant harmonies before diving into despair.

Katharos sums it up by stating, “We are very proud of the album, and this recording sets the music in its right aural space.”

With atmospheric tracks previously released like “Abadonnas Intag” and “Awakening of the Converted”, it’s easy to see where Katharos has taken steps in progression, growing both lyrically and musically in their creative processes to bring us an epic combination of vocal prowess and balanced instrumental mastery.

The first track, titled “Those Hornclad” dances in on a horrific intro, with the battle horn of a Demon hoard calling out to marching masses. War is upon us in an instant as the shattering sound of feverish drums slam us into us like the first hail of arrows. What follows is an endless barrage of maddening riffs and atmospheric orchestration that rains terror from above. The blend of vocal pitch from howling lows to vicious screams is not done mindlessly, allowing for the epic melody to come through during perfect lyrical intervals, with vocals balancing out.

Following up is “Feigned Retreat” that keeps the energy at an all-time high. Earth-shattering drums keep pace with a barrage of depth as vocals bring in a parade of drawn out riffs that both mesmerize and entertain. It is reminiscent of Dimmu’s “Spellbound by the Devil” in its layering, allowing for the Symphonic plays to come through like quick breaths to enhance the aura belted out from the mystifying guitar solos.

The title track, “Of Lineages Long Forgotten” rings in with the hammer of snares that feel like gunfire against our ears. Lingering orchestration dances in the background as we await an onslaught of terror as the atmosphere is riddled with tension. The drop comes before a minute in, sending heads flying back into windmills of unparalleled proportion. It’s not hard to find yourself thrashing along to the speed of this track, giving brief moments to admire the layered intervals that appeal with both keyboards and guitars while striking us with relentless beats. At nearly 9-minutes in length, it is the longest from the 7-track album but by far the most vividly imaginative. Closing your eyes sees yourself painting a portrait of hellish battles, broken bloodlines, and forgotten oaths sweeping across a blood-soaked land of horror and darkness.

Without a moment of hesitation, “The World Serpent’s Marrow” strikes like lightning, with an adrenaline-fueled melody that borders brilliance and insanity. It’s a wild mix of vocal highs, and powerful riffs that summon you to the edge of the world. Thunder rolls, and waves crash against a battered shoreline as the Serpent appears, and you prepare the swing of your mighty hammer. The speed of this track is untamed but, keeps focus on string depth as needed to keep pacing both steady and interesting, making it easily one of my favourite from the album.

“Lay Yersinian Siege” is a symphony for the ears. Coming in on powerful orchestration, you can feel the dense atmosphere within seconds of its entrance. Without fail, an ear-splitting riff tears through us, bringing in the hail of drums like thrown spears. It’s got the perfect balance that gives it a headbanger’s flow from side to side before demanding relentlessness and dedication in its harmonies. The combination of symphonic and black metal in this track are most noticeable, creating a level playing field of story-driven melody and instrumental mastery that keep the length of this track from being repetitive while allowing it to stun listeners from end to end.

Adding further bloodshed to the field is “I Waged War” coming in with a mind-melting blend of instrumental chaos. Drums run high, hammering at us both in steady foundation and attention-calling slams, while guitars follow in seamless procession. It’s the perfect fall that leads us into the final track called “Most Dread Portent” that finally calms the chaos, offering a foreboding melody in its introduction. Dragging through with hastened drum intervals, the sense of dread has veiled us like a wet cloak, slowing this track’s pace and giving us a chance to focus on the instrumental skill this album has to offer. Of course, it isn’t without its unyielding ferocity, as the speed picks up before 2-minutes hit and we feel darkness settle into our bones.

The Bottom Line:

This album is best listened to in its entirety, with tracks seamlessly flowing from one to the next like an endless battle soundtrack. For fans of Symphonic Black Metal, this is truly a refreshing take on the genre, as said before, with maddening riffs and speed-happy drums commanding attention but, the layering of deep keyboards adding tension and environmental fears to the mix that keep the imagination on edge.

Favourite Tracks: The World Serpent’s Marrow & Lay Yersinian Siege