REVIEW: KHONSU – “The Xun Protectorate”
Dystopian landscapes are popular occurrences in works of art, and the associated bleakness, mystery, dreariness and feelings of emptiness are important in its consumption. A visual or textual depiction of such a morbid world is something we’re familiar with. However, painting such a picture using only music is vastly different –there’s more room for the listener to visualize the atmosphere created and allow the horrors from their own minds to manifest themselves in various forms. In sculpting such a landscape, ‘innovative Norwegian extreme metal’ band Khonsu are giving off some incredible vibes in their album ‘The Xun Protectorate’.
This record is filled with black metal elements, effects, and clever song-writing that creates an enigmatic picture in your head. The concept album follows events on a futuristic space station, and the music gives off that vibe. There is no doubt about it –Khonsu’s sound may not appeal to you for whatever reason, but rarely is an artist so successful in making the listener visualize something of this grand scale.
Comparisons with bands like Dimmu Borgir will come up, but Khonsu sound more focused, creative and rich, and less of a gimmick, as a result of the concept of the album. If you dig ambient textures, landscapes and experimentation, this album is a must buy. There is rarely a point where a riff or orchestration feels forced, and the innovation in the song-writing is evident. The music also requires top-notch production because it’s very intricate, and the album’s production does justice to the band’s grand sound. “But black metal should sound like it’s recorded with a potato”… Just no. To illustrate why Khonsu needs this immaculate production, it’s interesting to realize that the band aren’t really black metal. The black metal influences creep in to add a layer of vileness and aren’t force-fitted.
Just listen to the whole album –it’s an experience that takes you through a world of emotion. Talking about individual tracks takes something away from it being a concept album; it’s the whole record that matters, right from start to finish. But if you have to sample a taste, check out “Death of the Timekeeper”, for it is truly spectacular, majestic, and embodies the space station vibe. Performances by multi-instrumentalist and mastermind S. Gronbech and vocalist T’ol (Killing for Company, Chton) are diverse and there’s no point evaluating them as discrete elements. Their playing comes together to create fantastical images that makes the album an incredible offering in every aspect.