Tolkien’s legacy will live forever as a benchmark for Fantasy literature and thanks to Peter Jackson a benchmark for Fantasy cinema as well. Although I have only ever had the pleasure of viewing the films a mistake I must rectify in the near future, my passion for The Lord Of The Rings and Tolkien’s expanded universe is ever present, but what makes it so damn Metal. Since the early 90s Black Metallers have latched onto the cloak of The Witchking spouting the vile historical conquests of Mordor, this tradition has seemingly filtered into a more modern age.
Cascading through The Black Gate come Keys Of Orthanc a fresh face to the Shire of Quebec in Canada. This one man Black Metal project tackles the darker side of Tolkien’s universe, which whilst not terribly unique does work well. With no previous releases Dush Agh Golnauk is the debut album of Keys Of Orthanc. With so much competition in the realms of Tolkien inspired Black Metal how does this solitary warrior fare?
Dush Agh Golnauk is to be blunt short, clocking in at just 35 minutes including two long instrumental tracks there isn’t a lot of substance, but actually I think this works really well. The instrumentals are beautifully constructed and not a touch boring serving as wondrous atmospheric introductory and closing tomes. The real meat is in the uninspiringly titled tracks however, Ringwraiths contains big emotive Black Metal riffs that seem to start here and carry throughout the whole album they are backed by Symphonic, Atmospheric tones to breath life into this debut.
These traits continue in a pretty atypical yet listenable fashion, the vocals are inspiring, dark and vile and even at points given life through the Symphonic elements. More melodic passages are injected into Mor Gahnum and the keyboards truly come to the forefront in The White Wizard. Whilst Dush Agh Golnauk is nothing new it is a pretty good listen, it’s Symphonic/ Atmospheric Black Metal to the very core with the added bonus of Tolkien.
Overall Keys Of Orthanc have really outdone themselves on this debut, it’s length gives us a glimpse into the bands future as if presenting us with an extended EP of sorts. Nothing feels strained, overdone or boring rather it is kept in line by the blueprints of Black Metals long troubled history. This is one for Tolkien fanatics and Dungeon Synth dwellers everywhere.
(7/10 George Caley)