Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16

In the blink of an eye, I’ve hit the half-way mark of my 2015 ‘Album of the Year’ countdown. To reiterate and run the risk of being likened to a broken record, 2015 has been one of the strongest years for rock and metal music. At least, that’s my firm opinion anyway.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices from 30 down to 17 thus far. If you’re new to my end-of-year countdown and are interested in finding out who else features in the list this year, links to each and every entry so far this year can be found at the bottom of this post.

As always, comments and interaction are very welcome, so please let me know what you think whether it’s positive or negative. And with that, here’s my choice at number 16…

Number 16

Keep-of-Kalessin-EpistemologyKeep Of Kalessin
‘Epistemology’
Indie Recordings

This album has been one of the many highlights of 2015 for me. Not only is ‘Epistemology’, the sixth album for Keep Of Kalessin an absolute monster, it is the album that has helped me to see the light when it comes to a band that I had dabbled with but had never really ‘got’ and was on the verge of being shelved forever more. There’s nothing that I love more than being proved wrong and hell, have Keep Of Kalessin proved me wrong.

I had been of the opinion that this Norwegian band were a bit of a one-dimensional extreme metal band, that churned out music that was all-too-similar and lacking in variety. This is simply not the case at all, at least where ‘Epistemology’ is concerned and it has forced me to re-evaluate my opinion of the band. Indeed, since being on the receiving end of such an epiphany, I have revisited the Keep Of Kalessin back catalogue and I find myself enjoying the previous albums a lot more now than ever I used to. Like I said, I love being proved wrong, especially when it leads me into listening to good music with a fresh pair of ears.

Photo: Victoria Bjorklund, design: Jean Michel
Photo: Victoria Bjorklund, design: Jean Michel

The other great thing is that I was able to review this record around its release from a viewpoint unhindered by bias or with an opinion coloured by the music of the Keep Of Kalessin back catalogue. If you’re interested in reading the full review, it can be accessed here.

However, to summarise it as succinctly as possible, the music of ‘Epistemology’ is nothing short of epic. It is multi-layered, multi-faceted and an utter joy to listen to from start to finish. It’s not recommended for those looking for an instant hit of gratification but for anyone looking for some intelligent and rich black-tinged extreme metal with melodic and symphonic flourishes to get their teeth stuck into, ‘Epistemology’ is perfect.

To briefly quote my review, ‘what surprised me initially is that such a huge, epic sound can be created by a mere three people. Obsidian C handles the vocals, guitars and the bulk of the writing it would appear. However, he is more than ably assisted by drummer Vyl and bassist Wizziac, both of whom make an impact on this record.’

After a diminutive yet grand cinematic instrumental opening, the album truly comes alive via the utterly sensational ‘The Spiritual Relief’. With a running time of just shy of ten minutes, it’s the longest track on the album but it flies by in a flurry of magnificence. It is a contender for one of the best songs of the entire year thanks to the way in which is combines black metal, prog, power metal and symphonic metal into a cohesive whole that flows from idea to idea seamlessly and with unbelievable deftness.

Happily, the quality rarely diminishes culminating in a very consistent record and one that I return to regularly, even after the dust has settled and the immediate euphoria has died away. This longevity, if nothing else, underlines the quality that’s on offer with ‘Epistemology’.

Elsewhere, ‘The Grand Design’ expertly blends extremity with sumptuous melodies whereas ‘Necropolis’ has a great groove that forces the listener to headbang whether or not they wanted to. ‘Introspection’ on the other hand, begins quietly with a theatrical synth-led opening before hurtling towards a huge, anthemic power metal-esque chorus via more lightning-fast rhythms and riffs.

In conclusion, I return to my original review: ‘For someone who wasn’t expecting much, I must admit that Keep Of Kalessin have well and truly blown me away with this record. ‘Epistemology’ contains just about all the things I like from extreme metal these days; the combination of extremity, technicality and overblown grandiose melody and atmosphere is truly a thing of beauty and something special to behold. Magnificent.’

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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