Akb’al – …Of Darkness and Light

Akbal Online promo shot

    …Of Darkness and Light is one of those encounters which makes a striking initial impression but over time and subsequent journeys unveils and expands into a constantly rewarding and riveting adventure. The creation of Welsh progressive metallers Akb’al, the seven track album soon shows it is much more than that tag suggests, the band exploring and employing resources across a multitude of styles to produce one thoroughly absorbing and provocative experience. The release is not without minor issues, and they are minor but with craft and hunger to seduce and savage across its formidable presence, the band’s debut is an impressive adventure to grow from.

     The seeds of the band began back in 2006 with Michael Young-Temple (vocals, bass, tablas, djembe, didgeridoo and the kaossilator!) who coming to the end of travelling around the world began fusing his experiences and world percussion instrumentation into a more stoner/prog rock and metal bred songwriting. Linking up with Thoby Davis (vocals, guitar, violins) and Rob Miles (guitar, backing vocals, synths), the trio began evolving and expanding Young-Temple’s early ideas. The band was eventually completed with drummer Michael Hourihan, also of Onslaught, and from 2010 set about building a live presence. The Cardiff quartet took little time in making a mark locally and with shows alongside bands such as Ten Cent Toy, Thorun, Chaos Trigger, and Fell on Black Days was soon an established and eagerly followed proposition around their region. Next came a venture into the studio to set about working on…Of Darkness and Light; the result a tempest of imagination and invention and one of the more exciting and compelling entrances so far this year.

     The band bring influences from the likes of Tool, The Doors, and Porcupine Tree through to Kyuss, NIN, Alice in Chains, and Akbal Cover ArtworkCoheed And Cambria into their sound though again certainly they are spices heard but only a slight flavour of what …Of Darkness and Light feeds the senses within. The title track opens up an imaginative and intimidating flight, the track a venture through the dark side of the release’s theme, an exploration of the darkness and light in human reality and state of the mind. Opening female torment within a cloud of pestilential breath coaxes in a shadow drenched bass and guitar incitement, the former heavy and respectfully imposing and the latter a melodic tender heat wrapped in spoken whispers. It is an intriguing and imagination probing invitation which flows into an aggressive and tempestuous oppression of noise and intensity. Merging mellower caresses with menacing sonic rapaciousness the song weaves and entrances the senses with a blend of progressive, nu, and psyche metal for a potent and riveting start.

     The Ride takes over with the same fluidity and mix of dark and light evocations, voracious and magnetic textures easily lying in each other’s arms as the song develops a melodic metal temptation. Again nothing settles into a singular persuasion or attack, bursts of primal agitation vocally and rhythmically punctuating the transfixing melodic wash of the song and great clean vocals. Sonically the track equally ebbs and flows with intimidation and temptation, both fuel to the open invention and craft consuming the ears.

    From the very strong start the album switches up another creative and impacting gear with Totally Recalled and the following Equilibrium.  A muscular rock essence which at times flirts with a Metallica like tempting guides the heavyweight stoner persuasion of the first song, an exhaustive metallic predation united with an infection clad groove just as irresistible and virulent in its ignition of the passions. As with many of the tracks there is a slight familiarity to certain moments but never anything to deter thoughts and emotions from falling greedily into the scintillating feast of sound and enterprise on offer. The track’s successor and new video single from the band is pure magnetism, simply nine minutes of smouldering wanton seduction from its opening melodic notes. Thumping rhythms and a bass snarl is soon stalking the senses whilst another strong and impressive swarm of clean vocal harmonies soak the ears with the equally pleasing lyrical narrative. The song is an unbridled addiction, unveiling a mouthwatering range of grooves and hooks within a flowing evocative soundscape which never relinquishes its hold and immense stature across its epic expanse. Like a mix of KingBathmat and Tricore with a healthy touch of Mishkin to its ingenuity at times, the song is a masterful triumph and the obvious doorway into Akb’al.

     Restless And Waiting is bred from the same bloom of ideas and inventive sculpting as it predecessor but returning the ears to the scavenging causticity of coarse vocals and sonic predation within the melody rich adventure. The song provides a subtler though no less captivating addictiveness with its squalling charms. It imposingly completes a trio of major peaks in the range of lofty highs with the sultry suasion of Pacha Mama stepping up next to take its share of the imagination. A gentler and progressively crafted soar through melody enriched and expression cast sky, the song is a mesmeric and evocative exploration bringing diversity and further acclaim upon the release.

    …Of Darkness and Light closes on the extensive instrumental Light, a lingering invention driven travelogue of emotional reflection and expressive scenery taking in twelve minutes of tantalising continent travelling endeavour. Admittedly like a couple of songs it is a little too long to keep attention as enraptured as it deserves but as mentioned earlier the issue is a minor quibble against the pleasure and enthrallment surrounding the senses. It completes an outstanding encounter from a band in Akb’al, who you can be sure we will hear much more of and in even greater circumstances ahead.

http://www.akbalband.com/

www.facebook.com/Akbalband

9/10

RingMaster 10/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Lay Down Rotten – Deathspell Catharsis

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    As viciously aggressive and destructively accomplished as ever, German death metallers Lay Down Rotten unleash their newest tempest of provocation in the brutal shape of Deathspell Catharsis. The follow-up to the excellent Mask Of Malice of 2012, the Herborn hailing quintet reaps its impressive essences and twists them into the most creative and malevolently resourceful violation from the band yet. Released via the band’s new home Apostasy Records, the ten track beast is the band’s finest moment to date, stretching their invention to new realms without losing the core death metal toxicity which has made them such a persistently formidable proposition over close to fifteen years.

     Mask Of Malice, though with a few issues left the appetite bulging with its barbaric obliteration of the senses. It was not something to worry boundaries and existing heights of death metal but an aggressor which gave the genre a certain shot in the arm. Deathspell Catharsis does the same, but this time with a much more adventurous intent really pushes and explores the band’s creative depths. Equally the release finds a heavier darker tempestuous presence than its predecessor, the band breeding an even more intensive brutality from within which sonic endeavour and imagination excels. Once more linking up with Thilo Krieger at his Desert Inn Studio, Lay Down Rotten has uncaged a new beast from within, an album which it is not hard to get over enthused about.

    Deathspell Catharsis makes an impressive entrance with opener Cassandras Haunting and the following title track, cdarc016_ldr_dc_300dpithough in hindsight the pair are slightly underwhelming in comparison to what follows. The first is a seven minute journey through rigorous and intimidating textures; the initial restrained guitar crafted melodic coaxing within a brewing of atmospheric intensity not alone for long as towering rhythms from drummer Timo Claas provoke the affair. Expanding its sonic arms with the guitars of Daniel Seifert and Nils Förster carving an enticing web of intrigue and adventure, the song is soon soaked in a nagging swarm of rhythms and riffs which rapidly follow. The vocals of Jost Kleinert are as insidiously provocative as ever, his rasping squall backed just as venomously by the tones of Seifert, both make intimidating allies to the equally imposing sounds. Intensive and compelling, the track is a mighty lure into the release, skill and passion drenching the encounter but also lacking the same spark which marks the emerging tracks within Deathspell Catharsis. The title track is equally hard to fault with its rampaging riffery and unrelenting rhythmic rapaciousness but also misses finding the same bait which marks its successors. Nevertheless the song is a powerful and wholly convincing pleasure seizing attention and appetite with ease.

    The album makes its first addictively toxic strike with Schädelberg. The track wakes the ears with tortuous violence before erupting in a blaze of acidic riffing and sonic expression from the guitars, the bass of Uwe Killian bringing a malevolent dark presence to this riveting start. There is a bestial feel to the intent and volatile breath of the song but one which is happy to wrap itself around the melodically fuelled yet predatory imagination of the song. The merger of inventive spices and inspiring sounds from within the death metal body of the track grabs curiosity and emotions as does the contagion which is brewing throughout and makes its most forceful play once the song is well into its stance. Closing on a virulence which steals full submission, the song makes way for the similarly masterful The Fever. Group vocals call in the senses first before the leviathan weight and energy of the track expels a raptorial breath alongside a march of commanding hungry rhythms and riffs seduce. It is an exhaustive onslaught which as the previous song uncages the full extent of the new bold adventure within the band’s sound.

    Following the respite of the brief but skilled melodic instrumental Release Into Nothingness, the album returns to unleashing its ravenous jaws with the excellent Zombiefied Electrified and the even more outstanding Among The Ruins Of A Once Glorious Temple. The first is a nagging merciless storm of sonic pestilence which is unafraid to twist around and flail the ears with esurient maliciousness whilst the second is a stalking combatant from its early persuasion which cannot restrain for long an inspiring waspish groove which in turns fires up riffs and rhythms into another infectious surge of animosity and creative enterprise. As the album, the song just gets more potent and commanding with each encounter, the guitar imagination of Förster sirenesque at times and just as impressively complemented by the insatiable craft of Seifert.

    The album continues to captivate and impress as both Infernal Agony and Blood On Wooden Crosses avail the senses and passions of their individual musical and lyrical ‘warmongering’, the constantly impressing bass of Kilian stealing its finest intrusive hour on the album in the first of the pair. As the closing Blasphemous Rituals For The Perverted Flesh unleashes the final torrential fury of spite and blistering intensity aligned to exciting imagination, Deathspell Catharsis stands as a momentous and towering moment in the history of Lay Down Rotten, providing death metal with one of its first pinnacles of 2014. The band sounds like they are entering a new dramatic chapter in their existence which on the evidence of this is going to be something special.

www.laydownrotten.com

www.facebook.com/laydownrotten

9/10

RingMaster 10/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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King Midas – You Know My Name

You_Know_My_Name_Single_Cover

     Ahead of the UK release of their new album Rosso on March 3rd, Norwegian electronic art-rock outfit King Midas unleash the second single from the impending release in the magnetic shape of You Know My Name. The Fysisk Format released invitation into the band’s sixth album consists of three songs rich in eighties breath and melodic dance, a tempting which is very hard not to be hooked by. Rosso has already won a nomination for ‘Best Rock Album’ at the prestigious Spellemann Awards, dubbed as the Norwegian Grammys, and you can suspect you know why taking the new single as evidence.

      An immediate funk swagger breaks out within the electronic pop caress of You Know My Name, the lively and eager pulse of the song invigorating further an already vibrant and seductive breeze of sound. The smooth vocals soon lie their enticing textures on the welcoming lure of sound with that mentioned eighties synth pop breath making the strongest temptation. Thoughts of Blancmange and Heaven 17 spring up as the song continues with its sultry embrace whilst the jazzy croons of brass adds emotive fire and beauty to the lingering treat. It is a song which increases its potency with each play, merging nostalgia and refreshing modern invention in one pleasing melodic romp.

   The single is accompanied by firstly new song ColorSound, a more shadowed and pressing electronic narrative with a darker emotive depth and melancholic kiss to its synth pop weave. As the first, there is a strong familiarity to the track reaching back those decades which stops both from making startling statements on the passions but ultimately like its predecessor it ignites those flavours and essences into something magnetically pleasing.

   Finished by a more than decent remix by minimal-house duo Ost & Kjex of last year’s single Snow, an interpretation which also offers a stronger persuasion over numerous listens, the single is an easy to devour and enjoyable teaser for the new album. King Midas has returned from six years of silence in fine and tantalising form with their singles and album, and though You Know My Name is not breaking down barriers it undoubtedly gives some tasty food for thought with a new look at an arguably already well fed recipe.

http://kingmidas.no/

7.5/10

RingMaster 10/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

http://www.audioburger.com