Band Line up:
Jurgis – Guitar/Vocals
Helg – Guitar/Vocals
Khorus – Bass
Khaoth – Drums
1. Beyond The Bestial
2. Through The Realm Of Unborn Stars
3. Frigit Obscurity Of The Soul
5. In The Cold Embrace Of Mist
6. Red Mirrors
Khors have been recording and performing pagan black metal for almost fifteen years.
During this time – across the span of six albums – they have remained committed to the sort of aural savagery that has put them in great demand across Eastern Europe.
Beyond The Bestial marks their first recorded output since 2015’s Night Falls Onto The Front Of Ours.
While it’s not a full album it does include several new songs, tantalisingly arranged next to some re-recordings of some of the band’s classic output (to celebrate the ten year anniversary of 2008’s Mysticism)
It all kicks off with the title track.
If your genre preference is for raw and blackened lo-fi, then you won’t find it on Beneath The Bestial. Instead, Khors have opted for a pummelling cascade that uses precision and clarity of sound to deliver a vicious onslaught.
The musicians sustain their initial attack for a full two and a half minutes before a striking cello part cuts in to split the song into something grand and rather progressive. The intensity yields, making room for a hushed, industrial drum sample to simmer underneath the atmospherics. The band add an extra layer to the mix, using a piano to build the song’s final third into a climactic bombast.
My first impression is to acknowledge the potency of the performance. The band are holding nothing back. Drummer Khaoth, in particular, plays with an enthusiasm that, in actual fact, could benefit from being tempered somewhat. His frequent, rapid, syncopations on a series of splash and china cymbals add a lot of colour but also become distracting for me and veer on the side of “over-playing”. He is obviously a supremely capable musician, but often less really can be more.
The new music continues with second track – Through The Realm Of Unborn Stars – which crashes in using the same wall of sound, set to a very similar tempo. Initially, it sounds indistinguishable from the preceding song, but eventually settles into its own rampant gallop; alternating with an ethereal halftime.
The third offering is an instrumental piece that sails along on a Gothic synth. Frigit Obscurity Of The Soul has a dreamlike quality that showcases Khors ability to sustain a morbid atmosphere.
Winterfall is the first of three songs reworked from some of the band’s decade-old material. The retrospective trilogy is completed by In The Cold Embrace Of Mist and the bleakly acoustic Red Mirrors – which has more subdued feel. It’s a well judged counter to the violent sounds on the rest of the EP and stands out as highlight; mainly due to the dramatic dynamic shift.
Whether these versions improve on the originals will be a matter of personal taste. To my ears they sound leaner with a crisper production. I do feel like some of the raw charm of the 2008 editions has been lost. The synths now have a sophistication to them that leaves me missing the more primitive sounds used on Mysticism, and some may have a preference for the ravaged vocals of the early versions. But generally they work well and provide an acceptable alternative that does nothing to tarnish the band’s integrity.
Of the new songs on offer, all three are credible and effective compositions. However, there isn’t much here in the way of memorable song writing.
In amongst the clatter and cacophony there is little that catches the ear or demands repeated listens. If you are an existing fan of the band or a die-hard black metaller, then I’ve no doubt there is enough aggression and excitement on this release to satisfy you; but for those who have never heard Khors before; while this is not without its merits, I’m not sure how much it will stand out in a densely populated scene.