Kärgeräs - Return from Oblivion by Root

Release date: November 25, 2016
Label: Agonia Records

Bands that peaked during the dawn of black metal, the way we know the genre now, often had a bright moment and then faded or got stuck in their trick. Some might say that Bathory and Venom were like that. These opinions are open for debate, but the lasting impact of Czech pioneering band Root hardly is. Under the guidance of original member and lead singer Big Boss, the band has released their follow-up concept album to Kärgeräs from 1996. Not straying too far from the path, it’s titled Kärgeräs – Return from Oblivion.

The concept is about an ancient, proud race, that faces troubles. Let’s stick to that, because if you want to know the full story, you have two fascinating records to listen to, which is a lot better than me trying to ramble about it in a few lines, spoiling the fun. Root has more subtle take on black metal and has drifted from the extreme form to what they call dark metal. Together with Master’s Hammer, they represent the Czech addition to the development of the cult. On the cover we actually see Big Boss, which is sort of cool, because with his big beard he does look like a medieval sage.

The style  of Root on this album follows their very own approach to the genre, which always involves setting their sights on atmosphere and story. ‘Life Of Demon’ sets the tone with the ominous chanting, which is a strong reminder of the sound Therion has been producing. Thunderous rhythms and densely atmospheric guitar play set a mood of mystery that this album needs to tell the story. The deep, operatic vocals of Big Boss are immediately the thing that stands out and lends the album its overwhelming power.

The build-up in the rhythm and the polished production give the songs a sense of grandeur and majesty, which is quite captivating for the listener. This is something you’d like to ball your fists to and in a power stance enact your own legendary warrior performance to. Truly, the black metal roots are difficult to hear in the music of Root. What remains is the element of show and grandeur. For example, Big Boss is supported by a chorus that probably audiences around Europe will be chanting along with as well. It’s terribly catchy and boisterous, but somehow never goes truly over the top.

The main characteristic of the album is its lack of clearly defined style, but bringing a complete experience thanks to its conceptual nature. In the dark metal (as they call it) style of Root, a lot is possible, even a gentle, pastoral ballad as you hear with ‘Moment Of Hope’, where we hear Big Boss gently humming. It says a lot about the theatrical nature of the music, which is more aimed nowadays at story telling than at being the most brutal band in the world. The refined sound of Root can give the listener beautiful songs like ‘The Key To The Empty Room’, and that seems like a fine thing to me.

Root is going for storytelling, for theatrics and an epic feeling on this tenth full length album. No instrumental acrobatics or brutality, but just some beautiful music. If that means sounding a bit cheesy now and then or having some riffs that seem rather tame, like on ‘New Empire’, that’s all fine. Root is not for those that need reality, Kärgeräs II is for the dreamers and lovers of epic fantasy. That means it might not be as musically progressive as it could be, but the nostalgia of a good story is never wrong.

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