With a sound as cantankerous as it is compelling, Swedish metallers Kayser unleash their third album, Read Your Enemy, an encounter primed to ignite the imagination and emotions. Sculpting a tempest of modern metal with a thrash/heavy metal breeding, the band reaffirms their presence in a land of generally more blackened and deathly exploits. Released via Listenable Records, the album is a thoroughly riveting blaze of rapacious energy and invention which simultaneously sounds familiar and new as it stirs up the passions.
Kayser was formed in 2004 by vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand (ex-Spiritual Beggars, ex-The Mushroom River Band), guitarist Mattias Svensson (also The Defaced), drummer Bob Ruben (ex The Mushroom River Band), and guitarist Fredrik Finnander, and were soon grabbing attention with their raucous live performances and equally muscular sound. Their second year saw debut album Kaiserhof followed in 2006 by The Good Citizen EP and second album Frame The World…Hang It On The Wall, all well-received and bringing greater attention upon the band in a time which also saw a change in personnel. With a line-up of guitarist Jokke Pettersson (ex-Poseidon) and bassist Emil “Ewil” Sandin alongside Sjöstrand, Svensson, and Ruben, the Helsingborg quintet has continued to build and expand their reputation and sound, shows with the likes of Volbeat, Blinded Collony and Ektomorph across countries such as Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Czech Republic increasing the intensity of the spotlight growing upon them. Read your Enemy is the next formidable venture in their strong ascent, a proposition which cements the band as one exciting provocateur of intensive metal.
The album takes little time in seizing control of ears and attention, the entrance of opener Bark and Bow an enticing single guitar beckoning soon immersed in a brewing ominous atmosphere. Whilst it is taking hold riffs are revving up their engines to strike from within the embrace in tandem with firm rhythms. Now into its forceful yet restrained stride the track is soon graced by the great grizzled clean tones of Sjöstrand, his delivery expressive and intimidating to complement the similar attentive sounds. This eager charge is insatiable until wonderfully tempered by a breath taking melodic moment wrapped in acidic flames before reasserting its full fire again to mesh with the distinct skill of the guitars. There are many comparisons laid alongside the band but as this and subsequent tracks toy with the imagination thoughts of Bloodsimple are the strongest.
The excellent start is soon surpassed by the brilliant Bring Out the Clown, an insatiable rampage of thrash and heavy metal with a plethora of groove metal temptation. With rhythms taking chunks out of the senses whilst again Pettersson and Svensson savage and seduce with every note expelled, the encounter ignites body and soul with its contagious toxicity, a virulence shared by the following I’ll Deny You. Again its presence is a towering pressure and presence which baits its weight with infectious grooves, bold hooks, and submission stealing rhythms, all under the leadership of the continuing to impress narrative of Sjöstrand. Unafraid to twist its body with a feminine wantonness, the track easily sets a new plateau for the album from its already lofty heights.
Dreams Bent Clockwise steps up next, immediately chewing the ear with its hungry riffs and crisp rhythms. A core groove soon has its claw into the psyche and passions, the band using its drilling to wrap melodic endeavour and fiery sonic spite around the imagination and though the track is unable to match its predecessor, it still leaves an awakened appetite for the album hungrier. The mid-way slip into a tender melodic passage does cause eye brows to rise; it is a surprising and accomplished move as well as very enjoyable but the transition does not quite work to leave uncertainties which the song admittedly overcomes with ease.
The tile track thrusts the album back to its highest peak straight after, its predacious rabidity in riffs and rhythms matched by the vocal assault and the emerging carnivorous throatiness of the guitars and their ravenous presence. The diversity within songs and the eagerness of the band to raise a middle finger to predictability ignites the imagination as well as the songs themselves, this track one prime example as it excels and bloats satisfaction with every scything chord and fascinating idea. It is an enthralling trait which Almost Home employs next to the full too, the blend of melodic flames and bestial intimidation a senses and thought engulfing tempestuous adventure.
It is unfair to say that Read Your Enemy is an album of two halves but certainly from here on in the release fails to live up to what came before though much is down to the quality of the earlier songs and not the lack of invention and craft in the latter stages, as shown by Where I Belong and He Knows Your Secrets. The first of the pair seduces and plagues the ears alternatively with skilled suasion and animosity but lacks the spark to really turn on the passions whilst its successor lays down appealing grooves and heavy duty aggressive riffery but again is unable to spark the same greedy desires.
Nevertheless the album continues to feed and hold a keen attentiveness as the likes of the combative Forever in Doubts and the similarly feisty Carve the Stone expel their particular contentious. Using these two as an example, the uniqueness which marks out the earlier songs seems missing whilst the tracks have a relatively similar presence, certainly on the surface layers of their presence. The final two captivating tracks, Roll the Dice and The Fake Rose, are much the same but as all still provide a stormy treat which suffices the hunger, the skill of the band individually and united mouthwatering. To put the difference into context, every part of the album leaves most other recent releases from heavy metal cored bands pale in comparison, just some songs more potently than others.
Wrapped in fine artwork from Timo Wuerz, Read Your Enemy is a transfixing adventure feeding any wants and though arguably it could have been even better, maybe a modern classic, it is close enough to thrust Kayser to the frontline of modern metal with a traditional heart.
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