Release Date: 31-10-2019
Label: Ván Records
Kosmokrator is a Belgian metal band. Through Ruin… Behold is their debut album. It had the potential of being one of the best black metal records of 2019: it’s (well, from what I can hear) proficiently played, full of (From what I can hear) skillfully written songs and packs (from what I can hear) a technical edge.
It is also one of the worst-sounding albums I have heard this year. In fact, Through Ruin… Behold is victim of ill-informed, ill-advised and ill-executed production. It is a wasted potential, start to finish because of how it was mixed and mastered. Let me count the ways:
The guitars have lots of nice reverb but are so muffled that half the time you don’t even hear the riffs. What little you manage to hear is actually pretty damn good: it’s highly proficient black metal, delicious as all hell, but quite often this gets lost in an amorphous mess of distorted tremolo something-or-other. You don’t know if it’s going up the scale, resolving chords or just meaninglessly plodding away. Similarly, the bass fades in and out – sometimes it’s clear as day, sometimes it’s just an indistinct rumbling. The vocals are adequately placed but drown in reverb, rendering them pretty pointless (see below for more.)
But the worst offender is the drums. By God the drums. See, Through Ruin Behold manages to be the Anti-Born to Murder the World, in that instead of the drums overshadowing everything, you can barely hear them. Good luck hearing kicks without boosting the bass of your EQ, which also boosts other frequencies and so buries what crinkety little mids you have. The snares lack punch and are always audible, which cannot be said for the cymbals which often sound like they were made by a drum machine. I would say the snares were the loudest element, but no, for some reason that honor goes to the toms (of all things!) which boom far louder than any other part of the drums.
All this could still be good if it was intentional (which I don’t think it is) or if the band going at full tilt didn’t just result in a cacophony of meaningless noise masquerading as part of a song. When this happens, the kicks disappear and so the snare keeps pointlessly pounding away, the bass blurs, the guitars become indistinct and the vocals drown everything out and is drowned out by everything.
…and to add insult to injury the album is meaninglessly quiet. I never thought there would come a day when I would complain that an album wasn’t loud enough, but here we are.
Look, guys: if your album in 2019 ends up with worse production than Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky, than Mayhem’s legend-making De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas; worse than Immortal’s Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, all of which came out twenty-seven years ago, then you really ought to reconsider your choices.
So, in summation: I can’t recommend this album to anyone but those who like their black metal aggressively underproduced, unintentionally straddling the line between music and noise in addition to being low in volume. If this appeals to you, go for it.
J. – Vocals
C.M. – Lead guitars
D.V. – Guitars
T. – Bass
P.R. – Drums
01. The Push Towards Death
03. Irreversible Pathways
04. I Am the Utterance of My Name
05. Kosmokratoras I – In His Name Shineth the Sun
07. Gestroben muss sein