‘The Xun Protectorate’ was released in 2016 and it does a good job of painting the picture of a band that is, by any definition, not following the direction that the tides are moving. Khonsu (named after the Egyptian God of the moon) have created their own unique style of metal that mixes black metal with prog, industrial metal, and other electronic influences and, needless to say, it’s quite unlike anything else. Highly ambitious and in the relative infancy of their career (having released just one other record in 2012), this Norwegian band will hopefully be the focus of much attention within the metal community for years to come.
This band has a lot of interesting things to offer, beginning on the opening track, “Desolation City (Prologue)”, which demonstrates a spacey, Pink Floyd-esque vibe. This leads into the pulse-pounding track, “A Jhator Ascension”, attacking with all of the ferocity of black metal while maintaining the delicate electronic influences of, say, Depeche Mode or Nine Inch Nails. A couple of noteworthy things to mention and to ponder, first off, one can’t help but wonder if this is the what the djent scene would sound like if it actually had any sense of genuine musicality and made an effort to come of as something more than a trendy gimmick. Second, and much more concrete than the pondering mentioned above, this record sounds like it shouldn’t exist; the music on this record sounds so far ahead of its time and so, in a word, futuristic, that it’s almost impossible to believe upon a first listen. The vibe of this record stays pretty steady, for the most part, but on tracks like “A Dream of Earth”, the band even toss in influences from opera into their sonic onslaught. This record closes with a nice, delicate piano piece, titled “The Unremembered (Epilogue)”, giving this highly eclectic record, with all of its unrestrained sensibilities, a peaceful send off in the way that only a true maverick of a band like this possibly could.
It goes without saying that this record holds a singular place in the 21st century metal scene. With any luck, this is a band that doesn’t plan on going anywhere fast. These guys have genuine promise and, with a record this daring, they clearly aren’t afraid to fulfill this promise. This is arguably the most unique extreme metal record that has been released in quite some time. It’s nice to know that Khonsu, along with other newer black metal acts, like Kvelertak, for example, are willing to disrupt the narrative and push the envelope into new directions. In the case of Khonsu, they appear to be more than willing to continue in the tradition of bands in the past who maintained their own mythology to accommodate their musical catalog. Yes, this is a damn solid record, and though it isn’t quite flawless, it will hopefully tilt the scale in terms of what direction metal is heading, or in the very least, rekindle the flame that has of late been put out by the deathcore scene. Make no mistake, this band is on the rise; Whitechapel, eat your fuckin’ hearts out.