Khazaddum – In Dwarven Halls EP (2015)

Excuse me for a moment, because I’ve got to pick my teeth up off the ground. Whatever kind of force was in that mighty warhammer, sent me flying halfway to the other side of the mountain and I’m still reeling from the shock. That’s the last time I’ll try to enter the Dwarven Halls again. But if you like your metal piled on as thick as an armory with more guitar solos and drum barrages than you can count, well you might want to give these guys a try. To be brutally fucking honest, this record is simply too good to be a mere EP. It doesn’t just show three guys from Wisconsin kicking some ass on a record, it shows three guys from Wisconsin that might soon be kicking hordes of ass on stages throughout the world. So you ask me, “Is the music really that good?” and I reply with “You’re damned right it is.” As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to have to listen to the whole thing one more time because I simply couldn’t get over how much force and attention to detail was used in sixteen minutes of playtime. They cite Morbid Angel, Nile and Behemoth as influences, but even classic Amon Amarth shows up in some areas (think The Crusher) among several others that work to just bring about a performance that is literally fucking flawless.

Though the subject matter is Tolkien inspired, Khazaddum leaves the pomp at home and instead delivers an absolutely crushing performance that comes off just as powerful as anything you’ve heard from Nile in the past few years, complete with enough grooves to keep the kit blasts from running the whole show. It’s obvious within the first few minutes that these guys love their brutal death metal, but the fact of the matter is that there’s just more going on here than I’ve heard in probably about eight-tenths of that scene. Maybe the fact that these guys aren’t tied to grisly murder or gore/fetish based material means that they can feel free to explore their approach beyond that of the common fare. “Durin’s Bane” (4:47) in particular really caught my attention, particularly when the chorus melody came in fronted with dirty gravel and backed with a memorable set of blasts that just felt right. I also really thought that the disc’s last track, “Thorin Oakenshield” (6:10) was a definite highlight as it allowed the guys to show off both guitarists (Alex Rausa and Pat Gunderson respectively) with some absolutely memorable solo moments, which help to recall Behemoth, Nile and Morbid Angel at their very fucking best. It goes without saying that fans of brutal death who are looking for more than just a tired old approach will find something to like here. It of course sounds very ancient and a bit legendary, as it should. It’s Tolkien based death metal, and it succeeds as far as the mighty eye of Lord Sauron can see.

(3 Tracks, 16:00)


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