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KEEP OF KALESSIN may have fluttered under the radar for quite some time now, but the Norwegian band’s latest album, Armada, screams for attention…and deservedly so. Armada captures a vigor and excitement not matched by even some of black metal’s biggest players’ recent work. Guitarist and composer, Obsidian C. (who also moonlights as SATYRICON’s live guitarist), has crafted a gorgeous epic that is brutal in the right parts and just-melodic-enough in others. With blast-beats aplenty, Obsidian C. and drummer Vyl execute with precision and clarity allowing the intricacies to shine without ever getting drowned out. Vocalist Thebon’s scathing but uniquely clear and sometimes-melodic vocals finely compliment the chaotic backdrop. While most moments find the guitars handling the melodic notes, Thebon too tastefully throws in some notes, such as on the melodic chorus of “The Wealth of Darkness”. But the strengths of Armada are clearly Obsidian C.’s guitar playing and arrangements. Passages like the OPETH-ish acoustic passage on “The Black Uncharted” exemplify both his playing abilities and careful placement of standout passages. Throughout Armada, it is Obsidian C., whose riffing takes you through the twists and turns of the Armada epic. KEEP OF KALESSIN have showed their worth for future glory, but Armada is here today. Listen and bask in the destruction. (Candlelight USA Records)