There’s nothing more enticing than mixing the chocolate of Thrash into the peanut butter of Black Metal.
The recipe may seem simple and can be done, but it is very easy to flunk. So enters Kvesta, a brand new little beast out of Black Metal’s cradle of Norway, who takes the mix and adds a rancid dash of punk and a much unexpected pinch of personality usually lacking in both genres; one’s too busy trying to cause chaos and the other is too egocentric to give a shit.
They make demonizing fun.
The production, itself, is reminiscent of the 80’s analog. Technically a one-man band with a lead guitarist whose work ranges from expected to extremely creative, with some special guests thrown in, (including Leviathan), Kvesta at least gives the impression of a fully-staffed outfit. Raatten, who takes the lead vox, guitar, bass, and drums to task very well, demonstrates individual and unique understanding of each instrument. Yet, delegating the solos to a guitar specialist and sharing the spotlight with various talents at certain key points in the work shows strong leadership, as well as deeper understanding of his own limitations and/or the needs of the song.
There’s some musicianship here. It may not be groundbreaking inspirational, dripping in phenomenal, legendary skill, but it’s there, peeking out through addictive riffs and enticing, tribal rhythms.
The show begins with “Grande Messe Noir,” which gives the impression of a cold, dank room with a captive’s shaky voice chanting over the hums of a guitar, like earth simmering beneath. With nice timing between rests, each chant is joined by another in crescendo and off-harmony, giving the initiation more definition and strength. It is classic Black Metal kitsch, but with a twist; the illusion of a storyline, not just merely atmosphere.
Raatten’s vocal style is Danielsson-esque; strong, throaty, but clear. It does not throw a punch in the chakras with a tremulous vibrato, but then again, it doesn’t need to. The riffs and the rhythms are the anchors here – the Thrash element – which is especially apparent in “Midnight Blasphemy,” “Dark Presence,” “Warlock,” “Sadistic Goat Regime,” and “Pestilent Virulence.”
The latter even adds a call-back element, pleasantly commemorative of Suicidal Tendencies’ “Suicide’s a Solution.” All tracks are nice, short, and sweet, leaving before they risk outstaying their welcome, even if you want them to stick around. The project elevates in sound and structure with each song, building in confidence and creativity as it progresses.
Though it is very impressive, and extremely unusual, to actually hear a clean, meandering bassline in a Black Metal track, it is unfortunate that some of the blast beats fall lopsided, sounding more like single-fire gunshots rather than an assault weapon. However, considering there’s only one captain manning many parts of the ship, it can almost be forgivable. Yet, some of the amateurish lyrics, such as, “We’re in the forest / We are summoning demons…” can roll your eyes. But truthfully, Ibex Arrival is too good to waste on silly nit-picking.
This is very good Metal, full of bombast, edge, volume, and attitude. And for a debut? It will absolutely be worth to watch and see what this little baby grows up to be. Ibex Arrival will be released on August 16th on CD digipak and…cassette.
Welcome to the playground, boys.
4 / 5 stars