The soundtrack to a future Castlevania movie.
KEYGEN CHURCH has introduced me to an entirely new genre of music. Baroque Metal. The idea here is to fuse together piano, massive pipe organs and pure thrash metal into a tsunami of music. It is quite unlike anything else I own in my music collection and I absolutely love it. Think Castlevania on Speed and you are there.
The Italian artist known as KEYGEN CHURCH is referencing a time when the internet was young and hackers and demo scene musicians would post music manipulated from programs that seem royally impossible to recreate. It was done to showcase technical skill and prowess. The melodies held in each piece would be a maddening attack of arpeggios, speedy chords and riffs and would contain near-impossible feats of human hand manipulation to perform. All of this carries over into the KEYGEN CHURCH’s second album ‘░█░█░░█░█░█░’ (again a reference to hidden code and hacker delights). Almost every single track is a furious explosion of music.
What really works for me across its ten tracks is how the organs and electric guitars are often completely joined at the hip. If the guitar is chugging, so are the organs and the same goes for being bombastic. They share the stage and the piano then goes nuts to give the music a high end. Tracks like ‘T I L A S K A R O T’ show that at pace whilst the grandstanding ‘G E B U E R J E I T’ epically switches from slow power chords to Deemo-esque baroque classical cascades of notes.
Underpinning all the metal, organs and pianos are synth chiptune grizzlies and rock drums. Often the grizzly bass synths are lost in the power but when tracks strip back, they make their presence known. Similarly, the drums may not be the usual powerful force you expect in a metal track. This is because the baroque union of organ and guitar is so thick and strong – its resonance charges over everything else like a gothic syrup. This might be seen as a negative but because KEYGEN CHURCH makes their songs so melodic and powerful, you can’t help but enjoy the surge of energy from those main instruments.
In an album designed to have each track build to a crescendo, it is difficult to pick up specific high points. The catchy haunting organs of ‘F A R B A S K E I N’ definitely straddle haunting and playful. The opening assault of piano on ‘A S G R E T A L O S’ initially feels relaxing before it hypes up. ‘L A D I K E R F O S’ also feels particularly mosh worthy with its heavy bass pounding guitar and synth rhythm. I’d argue that perhaps the over ten-minute finale encapsulates everything ‘░█░█░░█░█░█░’ does so well. It even feels like an end boss fight as it introduces different instruments, breaks it down and then charges forward again full throttle. ‘V A R E CK J E I T’ is pure gothic symphonic rock distilled down into a Castlevania vibe. What is not to love?
Lovers of pipe organs, metal, chiptune and Castlevania game music, heavy rock and crazy baroque classical piano recitals will all enjoy elements of this. It might not gel for everyone but you’ll certainly appreciate the sheer craftmanship and energy involved in creating something so hyperactive and grand. I couldn’t believe it was created with just a few key instruments. I certainly feel like I’ve attended a rock concert for vampires and thanks to KEYGEN CHURCH I want to return again and again.
Recommended track: H A R E K L A V I T
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