21 Jun 2021 - Thorsten
Black Metal | Eisenwald | Release date: 19 Mar 2021
What makes a good Black Metal album? Atmosphere? Speed? Rage? Or just simply a good mix and production? Kankar is very straightforward and punkish with their kind of Black Metal and yes, it is very effective.
Based in Eastern Germany, Kankar is a duo consisting of Plágan (drums) and Stríð (bass, guitar and vocals), that was formed in 2016 and that released their debut EP Elemental Fury (still using English for their lyrics). In March they released their full-length debut Dunkle Millenia (“dark millenia”) with eleven songs now sung in German spanning across 44 minutes.
Something really outstanding about Kankar is the way they are able to show where Black Metal came from and yet never sounding like a boring history class. They incorporate some highly melodic guitar pickings (compare the beginning of the final title track) or also some very evocative and dramatic drumming (listen to the ending of ”Pilgerreise” which sounds a bit like the middle between Pagan and tribal drumming). They show a good understaning of how classic Heavy Metal works (the midtempo riffing and very rhythmic vocals in ”Die Sonne Über Ikarus”) and also how emotional group chants can be (with ”Pilgerreise” underlining the Pagan Metal resemblance even further).
One thing that needs special mentioning is the production by Markus Stock who has done a perfect job accentuating all the little details that make Dunkle Millenia such an above-average-record. Every little bit of the sound is well-lit but never putting the over corners into a kind of shadow – the balance is in the mix. Because of that it is also possible to understand Stríð‘s lyrics very very well, which is a good thing, because they are not to be underestimated. He sings, growls, screams and gutters about things that seemingly are long gone (pride of your home, of your traditions, of warriors and their death) but it never sounds old-fashioned. ”Der Nekronaut starrt inzwischen toter Sterne und Nichts. Schwebend im kosmischen Koma der Zeit und Zerfall des Lichts. Der Grenzgang empirisch in die Anderwelt… Die Transzendenz vorüber schnellt.” (“the necronaut stares into dead stars and the nothing / Floating in the cosmic coma of time and decay of light. The empirical crossing to the other side. Transcendence rushing past.”) Now some people might say that these are mere shells but if you think about it – we are rushing past our existence, past the one thing that makes us unique and simultaneously we try to stare down the stars while ignoring our oncoming death. The way mankind thinks about everything but not about its own mortality is striking!
If there is one thing that we could comment negatively on, it is the lack of some Atmospheric (Black) Metal parts, however if you do so – remember that this band has its roots deeper than just the last ten to twelve years. They surely understood Bathory and Satyricon, but also Lunar Aurora and UADA, for many of their songs are really fast and show the kinda punkish attitude that a lot of these bands had without trying to be punk. It is merely a “f*** it all!” attitude – and the mental middle finger is always directed towards the scene police. In that sense they fit perfectly to Eisenwald, because that label is also expanding more and more into a Metal powerhouse. With Kankar the label gets a band that, just like UADA, is able to sound modern and appealing yet in no way denying the roots of the beloved genre.