Kybalion – A Crippel Power

3 min read

Band: Kybalion
Title: A Crippled Power
Label: Void Wonderer Productions
Release date: June 27, 2024
Country: Italy
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording

At first spin, I expected Kybalion – A Crippled Power to bring me to the same comfortable inner space as many of the melodic third-wave black metal bands do. The riffs, vocal style, and drumbeats bring associations to Swedish bands of the mid-90s such as Mörk Gryning and Sacramentum, but while listening my frustration was growing. Something felt slightly off. The flow was interrupted by unexpected turns and breaks. Since the craftmanship behind this music was obvious to me I felt at a loss. Why did I not connect to the music? To dig deeper I decided to scroll through the lyrics. This is where it all shifted.

The lyrics of Kybalion are not the fire and brimstone I would have expected from the subgenre. The style is irregular and unbound, sometimes to the point of feeling translated or as work in progress, which only increase the feeling of a real spirit behind the words. The meaning has been allowed to be more important than the form. Still the form is highly interesting. The lack of restraints leave the words and metaphors naked in a way that conveys the ugliness and disgust of physical existence, bringing my associations to contemporary poets like Houellebecq or Jelinek. At the same time the spiritual striving away from this inescapable weight of realism is constant. I find myself pausing, reading the same lines over and over, reading them out loud and contemplating their meaning. The tension between the longing for something beyond, and the harsh and sticky imprisonment in physical reality is what I find to be the creative core of Kybalion. My closest comparison within the black metal scene would be if the depressive suicidal realists of Lifelover and Shining would have a baby with the most philosophical moments of Death Spell Omega. There is emotion and conflict, reality and striving, and nothing is resolved.

With the lyrics ringing in my memory, I go back to the music. What I hear now is something different. The riffs and melodic structures still remind me of the third wave, but what I previously found frustrating and unsatisfying I now feel to be poetic. The music reflects the spiritual struggle of the lyrics. The rhythm and riffs build an attempt at elevation, but before it is realised it is weighed down by unexpected dissonance, breaks and turns of the melody. The aim of the music might not be to open up a different level of consciousness, but rather to process the frustration and shame of not being able to do so.

Still, this is done in a highly skilful way which gives the music a seductive effect. I find myself going back, listening over and over as if I believe that next time the release will come. Unlike other acts that touch on conflict and failed attempts at elevation, such as Lifvsleda and Hädangången, the music of Kybalion is almost ascending. It feels so close, as if the gate will open in any second. It is the creation of a mind that possesses the means to reach a different world but is crushed over and over by the weight of attachment.

Kybalion – A Crippled Power grows with every spin. It is not immediately satisfying despite the somewhat catchy melodies that are the first to capture the attention. Instead, with every listen I hear new nuances, new shapes take form within the layers of sound. Behind the clean but not overly polished production, the powerful vocals and tight drums and guitar riffs, there is something else. It is up to the listener to make out what. The process of doing so might be uncomfortable and frustrating but it will be worth it. 8/10 by Ask den Hängde

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