Khazaddum’s last EP, “In Dwarven Halls”, was one of 2015’s hidden death metal gems so as soon as I see this new album in my inbox for review I am already highly excited and the bar is unfairly high as far as my expectations go. Their new album continues on with their ‘Dwarven death metal’ assault, as the band further plunges deeper into Tolkien lore in a death metal manner. “Plagues Upon Arda” is wonderfully heavy and a great angle on this story, as it’s usually black metal that tends to tell the tales of Middle Earth. With this album , you are getting your Middle Earth battles in a much more aggressive way and with the addition of symphonic sections, the epic feeling that was on their last release is just so much more impressive. Khazaddum releases another hidden gem, don’t miss out on this release!
Khazaddum may have a theme but their music is not gimmicky at all. Combining everything you can like about Nile and Deicide, Khazaddum deliver punishing music and the production has improved for this album so it makes everything sound just so powerful and aggressive. Riffs on this album are put together fantastically, from just your ordinary death metal tremolo speeds to arpeggio passages that not only impress but they also crush.
“The Deathless Crown” is a prefect example as to what you are getting on this album as each song primarily sticks to this sound throughout the play through of the album. “Lord of Isengard” blends technicality with groove and style, smashing my senses with not only some great guitar playing but punishing drum work as well. “Legion of the White Hand” rips hard as the guitars shred at great speeds from beginning to end. “The Fell Rider’s Scourge” has more of a mid tempo groove to it and features more of the symphonic majesty that Khazaddum is wanting to include on “Plagues Upon Arda“.
“The Black Hand of Gorthaur” features more of the bands technical side as one guitar sweeps over a heavy death metal riff, just before the song transitions into full on assault mode. “Masters of the Plains” goes for more of an epic feeling as more blast beats meet up with symphonic sections. “Shelob the Great” begins cinematic in style but soon pushes back into brutality as the double bass comes in with the symphony, which in turn blends in very well with the riffs. The ‘thunking’ of the bass sounds so damn good on this track too. The way Khazaddum ends this song is my favorite conclusion to a song on this album. Finally, we get “Oathbreaker’s Curse” to finish up the album and this Dwarven death metal squad puts everything they’ve previously shown on this album and wrote a trully bad ass track as a result. Slow moments with grooving bass riffing and double bass rolling, while the guitars are nice and heavy and the symphonic moments just create another fine layer of atmosphere to the music. Vocals sound great and then the tempo speeds up a little and you get a little more heavy as time progresses, ending on an explosive note. Finishing “Plagues Upon Arda” is a grand fashion.
So there you have it, I really like “Plagues Upon Arda” by Khazaddum, it has familiarity to it with their writing style and I simply love the Tolkien lore aspect of their theme. This is the band’s debut album and debut full length release, so it’s nice to hear something so good from a band so soon into their career. Khazaddum has a great thing going on here and I wish nothing but success for them, as they seemingly deserve it with content as good as this. A must listen to album, buy this album and support good underground death metal!
Release Date: August 19th, 2017
FFO: Tolkien mythology, Nile, Deicide and Omnihility