German occultist, esoteric black, death crew Khaos Aeon are a new mob to me. The trio behind the band apparently released an album two years ago called Exitus which had a cover of Frozen by Dissection on it. Having listened to Koenigreich quite a few times in an endeavour to get to grips with it this is one of many bands I would have likened the sound on these 8 one word entitled tracks to. In fact there are so many other similarities Koenigreich is quite tricky to put into context and I have to admit this has been an album that I have struggled with a fair bit as it has me sitting on that annoying fence thinking that it is neither particularly bad or good.
‘Death’ is a far from succinct title to start this off with and some sinister sounds escape from the speakers before guitar riffs cascade out with a shimmery flamenco etched feel about them. Everything is well represented in the mix and although it is thick, instruments work together rather than being layered up and fighting against each other. Vocalist Izethos enters with a scream and his vocals have plenty of definition about them being both gravid but clean so you can at a push follow the English lyrics if you so wish. Despite being German this sounds somewhat Eastern European to me, maybe Polish or more likely from the Czech Republic, I keep coming back to the occultist vibe of a band such as Root here and the vocals become more eccentric and theatrical as things go on giving the likes of Big Boss a run for his money. I guess some of the guitar melody which is very strong here could be compared to Reinkaos era Dissection too. The clamour of “devil take me” works well within the lyrics and this is quite a convincing opening number. A forceful pound and groove sees the mid paced flow of ‘Pyre’ igniting things as it chants away and gets my feet tapping. The guitar work flows into a meandering solo and all in all this is engaging enough, even though it has not really got me working up a sweat yet or getting over enthusiastic about it.
The more we go into things the more uncomfortable I get with the sound and other comparisons keep coming through. There’s a Rotting Christ feel about some of the vocals and an aged Hellenic vibe about some of the dark and morbid harmonies on songs like ‘Night.’ Moving into a faster more stumbling black thrash tinged assault for the title track it is a pretty schizophrenic affair making you wonder what is going to come next stylistically. Sure enough we go to a slow stalk for Sutech and as the vocalist gurgles away there is no mistaking the hard crush found on slower Marduk tracks bristling through this which has it making its mark as the best track on the album to me.
Perhaps herein lies the problem and the fact I found Koenigreich difficult to engage with, there’s too many nods to other elements and not enough definition of its own making this a somewhat frustrating listen. That’s not to say there are not many good ideas to build upon in the future but this is an album that suffers a bit too much cut and paste for me.
(6/10 Pete Woods)