To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard of the band Kathaaria before the cover art for their 2022 release, ‘To Be Shunned by All... As Centres of Pestilence’, caught my eye. I found that cover highly intriguing, and since one of the finest challenges and rewards for a reviewer is to dive into unknown territories in search of musical gems, I gladly familiarized myself with the German band. In existence since 1999, the band released their debut album in 2008 through the esteemed End All Life Productions. The music on that debut record bearing the title ‘The Complex Void of Negativity’ is best described as a progressive take on Black Metal, a fascinating whirlwind of technicality with an eerie atmosphere. When you think about it, the title is an extremely accurate description of the music. But above all, it was a great challenging listen and an album I’ve come to deeply appreciate as it repeatedly spun while preparing to review the new album. Because, you guessed it, fourteen years after the debut the band has released their sophomore album. End All Life Productions presents: Kathaaria’s ‘To Be Shunned by All... As Centres of Pestilence’.
Fourteen years is an awfully long time between albums, so perhaps it’s justified to ask the question: Does Kathaaria still sound the same? The answer would be: for the most part. The music is still progressive and adventurous, and the sound and production are largely the same. I would say there is slightly more focus on the lower tones, both in the sound as well as in the vocals, giving it a bit more of a Death Metal touch. One example is ‘Agenda Nihil’, which at times sounds very much in line with the Black Metal on ‘The Complex Void of Negativity’ but also has riffs that remind me of bands like Nocturnus and Liers in Wait. It’s certainly something that works well and it just shows the band is willing to stretch the boundaries of what Black Metal means to them. ‘The Last Act of Rebellion’ starts in furious Black Metal fashion before turning almost into a Gothenburg style melodic Death Metal Riff, a trend which continues throughout the track. Halfway the track the emphasis shifts on building atmosphere, though spontaneous changes of pace are never far away. The atmosphere of the album reaches its climax in the final two tracks. The track ‘Never Dead Enough’ develops from a progressive intro into a more standard Black Metal track, and then turns an eerie corner with a sample from the song ‘Oh Willow Waly’ (the version from the movie ‘The Haunting Of Bly Manor’) before ending the track in near Doom Metal fashion. Closing track ‘Apathetic’ is a fully instrumental progressive atmospheric trip that brings the album to a rather beautiful end. You can argue that at times the band did take it a little too far down the progressive route, and the intensity of the previous album has been dropped a little in favor of more melody and atmosphere. I personally prefer ‘The Complex Void of Negativity’, but it’s hard to deny the quality and interesting twists on ‘To Be Shunned by All... As Centres of Pestilence’.
Kathaaria is a band that again pushes the boundaries of Black Metal, and consequently ‘To Be Shunned by All... As Centres of Pestilence’ might go too far for some. This is far from an easy listen that might not appeal to every Black Metal listener. Having said that, those willing to invest their time and dive into a journey full of adventurous progressive Black Metal might find themselves enjoying this record a lot. (VincentP)