As mentioned earlier, Khors will release their EP Beyond the Bestial on the 8th of December. They unveiled the eponymous single a few days ago, to my delight. To my even greater delight, the t-shirt (or tunic in my case) and physical copy were available at their concert in the fair city of Pilsen, Czech Republic.
As it turns out, Jurgis is not only the composer of the single but also the lyrics writer, which is a first in Khors history. Since his arrival in the band in 2010, he took part in the composition of many songs including “Black Forest’s Flaming Eyes”, “Following the Ways of Blood” and “Night Falls Onto the Front of Ours”. Since Google Translate has its limits and would therefore not give the most faithful meaning of these lyrics, I would rather not get carried away. However, as he is already a versatile artist in many projects, this makes this song pretty special in the way he put himself out more.
It is the typical Khors energy and rhythm yet broken with the leading melody, which is almost new to the band. Almost, in a way some pretty similar tones have evolved were already heard before in Jurgis’s instrumentals but the general feeling and atmosphere have drifted to a more absorbing intensity.
Speaking of evolution, I enjoy the way the vocals evolve through the song. The more it goes on, the closer and deeper it gets. It starts from the harsh far-off, unreachable preface blended in somewhat comforting and soft melancholy to come to the final and decisive verse, broken halfway by Helg’s part with his rougher timbre adding some texture, just as though telling a rhyme.
Helg is also the composer and lyrics writer of the following song, “Through the Realm of Unborn Stars”. Unlike his previous songs, this one sounds a bit slowed down and discreet.
There are less of these entertaining riffs but the expected vigorous and ongoing ones are quickly submerged by the keyboards and the lead guitar which, in some way, appear like the troubling side that forces you to stop and reflect. The surprising work on the chorus mixing mostly clean vocals does reinforce this feeling in a stunning way.
The new songs end with Jurgis’s instrumental “Frigid Obscurity of Soul”, opening with a scarce acoustic melody. It is in line with the previous pattern, in a more stressed way. There is this gripping alternation between the reflective side extending itself over time and the sudden, impulsive aggression breaking in. The development of a further classical soloist angle of the lead guitar is laudable, yet it rather gives the impression of roaming all track long.
It actually differs a lot from Jurgis’s previous instrumentals which were more unified, centralised on one idea like on “Night Falls Onto the Front of Ours” and more serene like “Horizons Glassy”. In comparison, we could almost talk of alienation by diverse elements. “Frigid Obscurity of Soul” is still a satisfying composition with its proper place within this EP but that, taken apart in the recent Khors discography, appear as more complex and spreading a little too much all over the place.
The second half of Beyond the Bestial is up to date versions of a few songs from Mysticism to celebrate its 10 years anniversary. As I also bought myself a copy (probably a re-issue) of this album, I was able to get a decent before and after juxtaposition. The new versions are generally better produced and more complete in the arrangements. “Winterfall” has an improved work on keyboards, riffs were sharpened and the alternations made smoother. I still found “In the Cold Embrace of Mist” a bit lopsided yet improved especially regarding the introduction but I admit it is not a song that really got me going.
Actually, while listening to Mysticism, none of this song or “Red Mirrors” would have been the songs I would have picked for a new version. However, this last one was, in fact, the most promising. I had no word to properly articulate my thoughts on it at first. It was so good and especially so unexpected I didn’t even know what to do of it. I’ll play the game (and make it shamelessly easy for me as well), all I can tell is that Khors still have surprises in store. My final word is that I nonetheless prefer the new compositions and most importantly, in Ukrainian since it is, to me, part of their charm.
Beyond the Bestial is out on 8th of December.