One will be pleasantly surprised to have their expectations completely subverted once hitting PLAY on Khazad Dûm’s debut album, “Khásma.” The Tolkien influences are apparent from the name and album art alone, but what sets these Brazilian Black Metallers apart from, say, your standard Summoning clone–is, well, just about everything.
One would be remiss to think otherwise. The year is now 2020 and genre tags like “castle metal,” “medieval” and “dungeon synth” are in full swing. Yet Khazad Dûm, while drawing from the same cobblestone well for inspiration, manages to filter those influences into something totally fresh and–dare I say it–quite fun. Imagine first wave Black Metal (like Venom or early Bathory) but crossed with the NWOBHM bounciness of bands like Saxon. Hell, one can even sense some early Doom in its veins as well.
Despite this, to simply declare “Khásma” a “throwback” piece is to miss the point entirely. The duo behind Khazad Dûm clearly have a fine ear for heavy metal history and have cherrypicked their favorite bits to craft a debut album that leaves a wholly original impression. It’s much more than the sum of its parts and overall provides a textured and rewarding experience. “Khásma” was one of my favorite albums from last year and remains in heavy rotation to this day. (Sam Cooper)