Ah, Ukrainian black metallers. We probably wouldn’t get along, but I love their music. So romantic, passionate…and sometimes racist. The press for Khors‘ Mysticism (Paragon, 2008) denies any political attachments. But though their lyrics are about ice, forests, lakes, and so on, the band members have NSBM associations – Hate Forest, Nokturnal Mortum, Runes of Dianceht. (I don’t get how Ukrainians can be pro-Nazi, given WWII, but that’s another matter.) This is one of those “separate the creator from the creation” deals.
Khors are like melodic doom (e.g., Katatonia, Swallow the Sun) gone black metal. Their debut, The Flame of Eternity’s Decline, had righteous riffing. Cold tipped the balance towards keyboards, and Mysticism continues likewise. My hate for keyboards in metal is vast. But it isn’t boundless. Sure, these evoke documentaries about outer space, and the keyboard leads are indefensible. But the tinkly tones are cute and complement tasty nylon-string leads. Khors’ songwriting has come a long way. Guitars and keyboards interweave through ornate arrangements. Placid half-speed interludes add variety. The recording is glaringly clean, but the sound is unique. Speaking of reflections, I have an irrational love for the album cover. It’s a violent Photoshop job, not something I would like. But sometimes the sublime comes in the cheap – see Burzum’s Casio symphonies.