Plagues Upon Arda by Khazaddum

Release date: August 19, 2017
Label: Self-Released

As the Lord of the Rings generation (and I’m referring to the films) grows up, it seems that the cinematic spectacle has had a profound impact. Maybe it’s not just Tolkien’s work, but also the many fantasy video-games. It’s hard to tell, but dwarven metal is a thing now and Khazaddum has released their first full length Plagues Upon Arda. Is that as good as it sounds?

Contrary to Wind Rose (the other name in dwarven metal), Khazaddum fully embraces he Tolkien mythology on their debut record that they are releasing themselves. Khazaddum refers to the ancient dwarven stronghold under the Misty Mountains, where Frodo and the gang pass through when it has fallen to the orcs. So, there we go, a cover with dwarven runes, a strong name but what about the sound?

We have the epic intro, that preludes the record. With an air of mystery we feel ourselves back in that room, where the fellowship of the ring suddenly hears the drums and the abyssal shape arising from the depths. A ferocious base drum kicks in and we are off! Off to the dwarven halls on ‘The Deahtless Crown’.

Or not, because basically the band sounds like straight-forward brutal death, where you repeatedly get beaten to the head per song in a high frequency. Sure, there still are some synths, creating the allure of something epic, but we’re pretty soon immersed in a swamp of blast beats, death grunts and the odd orc-slashing guitar riff. The gear is shifted to fifth and we’re not slowing down, so when we get to ‘Legion of the White Hand’, I actually have to check if my player isn’t on repeat. The tasty, screaming guitar riffs are pleasant, but too little to stem the continuous barrage that the listener faces. By Durin, give me a break!

On ‘The Fell Rider’s Scourge’ the band gains back a little of the epic momentum, it started with. Again, very little though and soon we’re just blasting and bashing away, cleaving orcs in half and bashing in skulls with vigor. If it wasn’t clear yet, this is not one of those catchy Turisas-like rides, it doesn’t even races past Bolt Thrower (though there definitely is some connection to be detected). These guys are somewhere in the league of Nile, Suffocation and such ilk. So do you get a lot of dwarf-stuff? No, unless the brutal barking vocalist counts as such (Luka Djordjevic does have the potential to be the next Gimli), but there must be a lyric sheet and the artwork is nice.

Khazaddum is a band that is extremely good at what they do, which is creating ear-splitting, neck-breaking, hyperfast, super violent brutal death metal that has something to do with dwarves. Their technical skill is obvious and they have an overwhelming impression to offer on this album. Just… don’t wait for the bawdy dwarf shanty’s.

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