Buckle up, nerds, it’s Tolkien time, because Khazaddum are back and ready to wreak havoc to all which stand in their path. The Wisconsin based quartet are due to release their first full-length album later this week, Plagues of Arda, an album which follows in the footsteps of the band’s previous release, In Dwarven Halls, by centring both lyrically and musically around the Lord of the Rings franchise. Khazaddum are a band obsessed with Tolkien’s masterclass of fictitious orc-murdering, aiming to create pieces of music which not only tell tales inspired by the books, but also match their “epic feel and scope of storytelling”. This is, of course, achieved through brutal death metal. Rather successfully, I might add.
Plagues Upon Arda opens with “The Halls of Khazad-Dum”, an instrumental piece which instantly sets the tone for the full album. The silence which greets the listener is slowly and gradually replaced with a choral of voices, intensely deep and ominous, and quietly delivered. This does not last for long though, as a solo drumbeat draws in an orchestral segment, which cunningly shares grace notes with the original main theme from the Lord of the Rings film series; a sly reminder from Khazaddum as to where this music came from. The majesty and grace of the orchestral style of play is soon paired with the barbarity and savagery of death metal as guitarist Alex Rausa unleashes a barrage of slow, distorted notes. He is soon joined by drummer Peter Kissane, whose blastbeats match perfectly with the death metal atmosphere established by Rausa.
“The Halls of Khazad-Dum” follows immediately in to “The Deathless Crown”, a track which casts away any doubt within listeners that this will be yet another Amon Amarth-esque band, simply incorporating symphonic sounds in to death metal. Instead, this track is an opportunity for Khazaddum to show exactly what kind of band they are; death metal to the core. This sentiment is continued throughout tracks such as “The Black Hand of Gorthaur”, and “Legion of the White Hand”, both of which are leave no room for introductions, instead opting to begin at a ridiculous pace with face-melting riffs from Rausa. The latter track offers a barbaric break-down around the halfway point through the track, with the entire band slowing down, while the low, grizzly roars of vocalist Luka Djordjevic dominates your eardrums.
Khazaddum are certainly a unique band, which is something of a rarity within the music scene nowadays. Not since Led Zeppelin has there been a band who adore The Lord of the Rings to such an extent. The band have certainly accomplished their mission statement, as Plagues Upon Arda sounds entirely massive, transporting you to an orc battle in a time long since forgotten. The chaos and insanity of the music produced only goes to reinforce this feeling, creating an atmosphere where you feel at the heart of a war, where the bloodied corpses of mythical races are displayed before you, while warriors clash until there is but one true victorious side. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, death metal, or fantastic music, then Plagues Upon Arda is a must.
Plagues Upon Arda is out now