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Katharos XIII - Chthonian Transmissions review

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Band: Katharos XIII
Album: Chthonian Transmissions
Release date: May 2022

01. Neurastenia
02. The Golden Season
03. Sine Materia
04. Chthonian Transmissions
05. From The Light Of Flesh
06. Okeanos

With only 10 days between albums from Katharos and Katharos XIII, it’s a shame that we didn’t get daily releases from Katharos II-XII, but they wouldn’t be as good as Chthonian Transmissions anyway, so I can live without.

KatharosOf Lineages Long Forgotten was a pretty respectable, if somewhat rudimentary, symphonic black metal release. Katharos XIII’s previous album, Palindrome, was anything but rudimentary; a subtle undercurrent of black metal lingered beneath an insidious concoction of mellow jazz and dark ambient. I was very much won over by Palindrome, although I could hear room for improvement with the metal parts, which has a roughness and crudeness at times that betrayed the atmosphere created across the rest of the record. In my review of that record, I felt that Katharos XIII could really be onto something if they refined the metal portion of their sound, and Chthonian Transmissions very much backs that sentiment up.

It should be mentioned that, despite highlighting that dark ambient/jazz core of Palindrome as such an appealing element, it’s not been entirely carried over to Chthonian Transmissions; there is enough of that jazz to be heard here, for sure, but this feels like a more metal-oriented record. The good thing about that is that the metal is much better executed this time around, with the production also helping it come through more favourably than it did on Palindrome. The combination of the doomy blackened metal and the sinister lounge on opening track “Neurastenia”, with Manuela Marchis-Blînda’s vocals and Alexandru Iovan’s saxophone working nicely in combination with both the metallic and the more ambient portions, showcases Katharos XIII as an explorative band, but one with a firm grasp on what they’re aiming to create. There’s also a nice bridge of tribal ambient percussion midway through the track that only builds further on what the band have already created in the first half of “Neurastenia”.

This is an impeccable first taste of Katharos XIII on Chthonian Transmissions, one that highlights the range and versatility of the band. That versatility only comes more apparent as the record progresses; between the more overtly black metal sounds in “The Golden Season” that veer more into pagan territory with the clean male vocals (while still finding time for Marchis and the saxophone to make an impression), the focus on ambience in “Sine Materia” and “From The Light Of Flesh”, and the frantic freestyle saxophone late in “Chthonian Transmissions”, there’s a range of sounds to be heard across Chthonian Transmissions. There is a bit of a split between the more black metal-oriented “The Golden Season” and “Chthonian Transmissions” versus the jazzier “From The Light Of Flesh” and “Okeanos”, but the improved composition of the former category means that there’s not a gap in quality between the two groups. Chthonian Transmissions arguably peaks from the outset with “Neurastenia”, but it’s a consistently captivating record throughout.

I finish quite a few of my reviews with something along the lines of ‘if band X could improve element Y, they could make a killer next record’, but Chthonian Transmissions might be the first time I’ve had a statement such as that vindicated. If I was to be ultra-picky, I wouldn’t mind a bit more of the jazzy side, which feels slightly less prominent here compared with on Palindrome, but that’s a very minor personal preference; I’m delighted to hear Katharos XIII really starting to fully unlock their true potential with this album.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 7

Written on 25.05.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 3   Visited by: 110 users
26.05.2022 - 00:06

It looks to be a song name change, from "Ruins" to "Chthonian Transmissions", according to Loud Rage bandcamp and youtube single. Apart from these curiosities, unexpected and impressive album
26.05.2022 - 08:19
Rating: 8

Written by Barron on 26.05.2022 at 00:06

It looks to be a song name change, from "Ruins" to "Chthonian Transmissions", according to Loud Rage bandcamp and youtube single. Apart from these curiosities, unexpected and impressive album

Aha, yes it looks like this is the case - I was going off the song names in the promo version that I was sent, I will update accordingly, thanks
26.05.2022 - 08:49
Rating: 8
With the Cursed Cemetery one from this year and the Ordinul Negru EP and the Kultika from last year, I'd say Fulmineos and his crew are on a roll. But this one is def my favorite of the bunch.
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