The end of the world: German metal band Kromlek, and vocalist Mr. Alphavarg (no, I'm not kidding), have a fascination with the end times. Their sophomore release is aptly titled Finis Terrae, Latin for 'the end/edge of the world' [sic]. In the past, Kromlek has referred to their metal as 'urban pagan' on their website and black metal on their MySpace.
I'm not sure where the 'urban' comes from, but the 'black' certainly comes from pagan traditions, against conventional Christian history, as reflected in the lyrical content, and Alphavarg's grisly vocal style. Thematically the album is about the coming apocalypse discovered in Hinduism, Norse paganism and, strangely enough, Christianity, although this is hardly prevalent. The songs are sung in German, English, Arabian, Swedish, and Sanskrit. Song content ranges from inspiration from Werner Herzog movies (Moritvrvs imortalis) to the Bodhisattva (Manjushri Aus Mir) to contemporary cinema in the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (Egophaneia). If you only thought heavy metal was about head banging and whiskey with a beer chaser, with Kromlek you, would be wrong.
Fundamentally, I could pass on Mr. Alphavarg's vocals. However, for a black metal singer, he's quite good. But mostly he's annoying and interrupts the real creativity here, the music. Finis Terrae contains some of the most astounding melodic heavy/power metal going in genre. Add the pagan/folk notion, and this material is grand, bombastic, and epic in its entertainment value. The Cocoon, Mantikor, Bastion, and Creation's Crowning Glory are glorious in their extravagance. The title track confirms Kromlek's brilliance equally the exaggeration only Dimmu Borgir could play. But then there's those irksome black metal dirty vocals. Alas! You can't have everything. I wonder if Mr. Alphavarg ever thought of singing clean? Sorry. I lapse of judgment on my part.
But if you want some epic and outrageous melodic black power metal, then dig into Kromlek's Finis Terrae. You won't be disappointed. (Actually, I'm surprised at my high rating for this album. I'm must be getting soft.)