Note: I listened to this band while traveling from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.
Hailing from Norway, The Konsortium were founded in 2001. Formed by Member 01, who serves as the band’s mastermind, The Konsortium live up to their moniker because the band are always in flux, with henchmen and partners in crime from different bands contributing to an ever-evolving sound.
The Konsortium’s self-titled debut features members from bands such as Mayhem and Kvelertak. The band plays modern black metal, which incorporates some elements of death metal and hints at facets of industrial black metal. The end sound is aggressive, dark, mechanistic, and intense. Bands that come to mind include Emperor and Khold.
Percussion on most of the tracks is whirlwind of drumming, which snuffs out the bass (although during quieter moments, the bass comes through quite clearly). Guitars are amped up and screech away, contributing to the mechanistic sound, with leads few and far between. Instead, The Konsortium focuses on intricate songwriting patterns, with the guitars anchoring and propelling the rest of the music. It is a very effective technique, perhaps one borrowed from thrash metal. Switches in tempo, time, and pattern are everywhere, with one minute the band trashing and bashing and the next only a bass lick or a simple guitar rhythm is showcased. Vocals are gurgled but come through relatively clear. Chants and power-driven vocals are used for background.
Progressive is a word often thrown about when a band pushes the boundaries of any genre, but for The Konsortium the word that comes to mind for me is avant-garde. The music is cohesive and never moves into the realm of the pretentious. Indeed, The Konsortium remain in the realm of the extreme, showcasing signature sounds but augmenting them with new approaches. Thus, old-school fans will enjoy the sound, as will fans of newer, more modern grooves.
For me, the band captured my attention with the slower, heavier tracks, such as “Decomposers.” Although there are moments of intense speed, it’s the heavier, denser moments that really shine, principally because the band milks each instrument of all its pain and strife with cruel abandon. Even the vocals during these moments sound harsher and angrier. This type of chest-pumping fury is what is sadly missing from most modern extreme music. Posturing is boring—this is the real deal.
Also interesting is the infusing of melody on some of the compositions. Such melody comes from the background vocals, which consist of chants and other clean vocals. During some of the songs (such as “Knokkeklang”), these vocals cross-pollinate and interplay with an intensity that produces lush harmonies while the instruments pull back and create a complementary rhythm.
With their self-titled debut, The Konsortium leave a deep, unhealing scar on the genre. Let’s hope the band deepens these wounds even more.