Reviewed: December 2020
Released: 2020, Non Serviam Records
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Norwegian black metal outfit Keiser released their sophomore full-length Our Wretched Demise on November 27th, through their label Non Serviam Records. The record’s lyrics deal with the concept of being at war (with one’s self as well as others).
In less than a minute, suspenseful introduction track “Prelude to War” sets the scene for the impending blitzkrieg, contrasting “Scourge Of the Wicked” rather nicely. The second track has moments where it breaks free of the usual characteristics of traditional black metal, with the lead vocals being the only component that does not stray from the sub-genre. This continues through much of the rest of Our Wretched Demise, which gives Keiser a unique flair.
“Cannons of War” brings to mind marching with its steady drum beats and short riffs, while the gang shouts paint a picture of a military cadence.
Following a much more conventional brand of black metal, “When Fire Rides the Night Sky” opens with buzzing axe work, before fully exploding into a firefight. The bass is very distinctive, which is an impressive touch as the song has a lot going on sonically.
“Shroud” rains down like a fusillade of ammunition in its relentless beginning, before the track switches back and forth between more melodic parts and the frenzied instrumentation heard during its introduction. Keiser do really well to make the harsher moments catchy by interweaving them with the more rhythmic sections.
“Far from Human” opts for speed for the most part, the drums and guitars dominating the sonic battlefield. Like “Shroud”, there are some unexpected vocal styles incorporated, which provide a narrator-like delivery in this instance. Clocking in at just over three minutes long, it is the shortest offering with lyrics on Our Wretched Demise, but this does not stop it from packing a punch.
Instrumental “The Fog” brings an acoustic flavour to the album, acting as the calm before the storm that is “Eternal Onslaught”.
Title track “Our Wretched Demise”, which surpasses the ten-minute mark, wraps up the record in epic style. The initial mood is doleful, yet determined. Many of the highlights from prior tracks reappear here in an evolved form. There are some triumphant solos that offer glimmers of hope throughout the last chapter.
Keiser implement elements that stretch outside of the typical Norwegian black metal box, akin to black ’n’ rollers Vreid, who are also quite progressive in nature. Our Wretched Demise is not to be dismissed as a typical run-of-the-mill black metal album. A commendable second album from the quartet.