I love reviewing debut albums and discovering new to newish bands. It is always fun to see what fresh, creative minds and talents bring to the scene. I am here to throw another one atchya. This time, from German black metal band Kankar with their debut full length release Dunkle Millennia. The duo joined forces in 2016 and released an EP in 2018. They have polished their craft since, and have come through with a dark, striking, electric, eleven-track album. The production is beautiful and crisp, the songwriting is skillful, the musicianship is bewitching, and each song flows perfectly into the next to create a cohesive story.
The album opens with an echoing thunderstorm before melodic acoustic guitar is introduced. This soothing intro builds to add electric guitar riffs and drums before the atmospheric elements disappear into one thunderous growl and the black metal elements rage on and take over. I adore this opening track, “Gier,” and the introduction of what is to come. The acoustic guitar comes back in later tracks, as do other atmospheric elements. The album certainly tells a story and holds a dark, yet vivid, energy and sound. While the overall arching genre is black metal, Kankar also pull inspiration from classic death metal, pagan metal, traditional metal, and even rock ‘n’ roll. There is a lot of vocal variety throughout and the elements from other musical types are especially felt here—black metal beastly growls, choral-like clean singing, and more traditional rock backing vocals. This adds unexpected flair and dramatics to Dunkle Millennia that captivates.
The songwriting is as impressive as the music itself. There are endless waves of riffs (the variety of which is enthralling), heavy hooks, and sounds that are layered brilliantly. My favorite track which contains the most rise and fall, is the title track and last of the album. Earlier elements are brought back in this piece—acoustic guitar solos, an assortment of vocal types, and of course, all the black metal goodness. This final piece of the puzzle showcases amazing riffs and had me hitting the repeat button as it left me craving more and wanting another listen of the album.
It is hard for me to believe that the expansive sounds are created solely by two mysterious individuals in corpse paint— Stríð (strings and vocals) and Plágan (drums and percussion). The production on Dunkle Millennia is expertly done and sounds phenomenal. No surprise there since this album was released under Eisenwald which for me, never disappoints. I am happy to see that this band has been absorbed by the label and the production value as well as craftsmanship are significantly elevated compared to the band’s debut EP, Elemental Fury, which was released independently. Both pieces in the Kankar’s expanding discography are gems that showcase the duo’s talents; however, Dunkle Millennia has a more professional, refined feel and sound.
I was very excited to dive into this album and it did not disappoint. I’m always in awe of talented musicians and their creativity in songwriting, and it’s exciting to experience new bands and watch their journeys. It’s even more impressive that these tracks were created with the talents of just two people. I’m eager to see where Kankar goes next and hope that they continue perfecting their craft and creating darkly enchanting, and captivating black metal.