KHAZADDUM “Plagues Upon Arda” 

PREZIR “Contempt”

By Dr. Abner Mality

It’s a long way from the Misty Mountains to Milwaukee, WI, but somebody made the trip because now we have Khazaddum hailing from Beertown. Well, the Dwarves of Middle-Earth could put away a pint or two, so it makes sense in a strange way. And the Dwarves are at the heart of Khazaddum.

One would imagine a band inspired by Tolkien’s stout little warriors would have a power metal or a folk metal touch to them. No such luck here. Khazaddum uses the roaring force of American death metal to tell its tales of death and glory, although triumphant strings and symphonics are also integrated into the sound. Does it work? It takes some getting used to, but if you like a relentless onslaught of guttural DM in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, you will likely hoist a tankard of mead to Khazaddum. The grisly growls of Luka Djordevic propel tunes like “Lord of Isengard” and “Black Hand of Gorthaur”.  I’d like to see Khazaddum utilize slower and more galloping tempos to give the songs extra majesty. The slower riffs of “The Fell Rider’s Scourge” give it a feeling of ancient power while the brisk but not breakneck pace of “Masters of the Plains” makes that the catchiest song here. The parts that are pure death metal tend to lack some identity but I think Khazaddum will gain in songcraft as they endure and may someday create a true mighty epic worthy of Balin’s Kin.

Khazaddum is not the only band Luka is involved in. He also lends his vocals to Prezir, an orthodox black metal project featuring guitarist Rory Heikkala formerly of Shroud of Despondency. There’s some of the same death metal growls to be found on “Plagues of Arda” but there’s also shriller, raspier shrieks more associated with black metal. The band had a traditional “cold” sounding approach to BM mixed with an occasional thrashy influence that surfaces on “Serpents of the House of Ra” and “Legend of the Five Suns”. Songs are long and complex but don’t strike me as something that sticks out from the pack. Purists will surely enjoy Prezir but the best is yet to come after they polish and hone their sound a bit more.