It might to be fair to say that attention wise over the past couple of years or so, UK metallers Karybdis comes under the case of out of sight, out of mind. In 2012, the band sparked a blaze of acclaim and eager fixation across the underground scene into mainstream media with debut album From The Depths. A thunderous slab of extreme metal, it was an explosive introduction to a band with the potential to grow into a major tempest in national and global sonic ferocity. Since then and certainly over the past two or so years, they have unconsciously been confined to the shadows as swarms of new bands and sound stole ears and focus from their quiet presence. News of a new album though turned on thoughts and old appetites like a light bulb. We are sure we are not alone in having boxed the band away in the face of the torrent of new music, but Samsara will see that it will not happen again.
The band’s second full-length is a cauldron of melody infested death and groove metal and an encounter which simply blossoms further with every listen. It also sparks the realisation that an already powerful and potent band has grown into and stretched again their creative skin. Formed in 2009, the London hailing quintet quickly forged a potent reputation for sound and live presence though it was From The Depths which was the bait luring the strongest spotlights yet. Since then the band has continued to be one of the UK’s most formidable live propositions whilst obviously evolving and honing their sound as evidenced by Samsara. The time has also seen the amicable loss of guitarist Harsha Dasari and the addition of Matt Lowry to link up with fellow guitarist Pierre Dujardin, and Karybdis in 2014 getting in touch, in regard to working with them, with producer Mark Lewis who subsequently went on to produce, mix, and master the band’s impressive new adventure.
Samsara is a release which definitely needs time to grow and blossom in ears and thoughts, though straight away it excites and impresses. There is so much going on in its depths, in its web of textures and progressive intrigue which gets a touch smothered by the virulent assault of the surface storm around them. There are only big rewards for the time and attention given though, and the enjoyment of an instantly powerful encounter blooming into something imposingly special.
It starts with Rorschach, an immediately dynamic netting of grooves around ears courted by the pungent bait of predatory rhythms. Vocalist Rich O’Donnell spews throat raw squalls into the intensive brew of temptation and rapacious intensity whilst Dujardin and Lowry spread grooved tendrils and hungry riffery across the increasingly energetic charge of the song. It is a bracingly stormy landscape unafraid to embrace a collusion of suggestive textures and melodic enterprise. With ease ears and imagination are enthralled, the senses provoked, and the imagination only nudged further by the skilful predation cast by bassist Jay Gladwin and drummer Mitch McGugan.
It is a great start matched by the following Forsaken, a track which initially seems bred from the same template as its predecessor, though the spirals of sonic endeavour within an emotive atmosphere soon reveal individual drama and confrontation. Both aspects are spun on the craft and invention of the guitars and driven by the rhythm’s barbarous touch as well as the throat raw vocal ferocity of O’Donnell. There is no escaping the animus of sound and intent unleashed, though the next up Constellations does allow a moment to regroup with its spatial entrance. It is soon a tempestuous trespass of the senses too, writhing grooves and sonic suggestiveness veining its ravenous assault before it twists in and out of calmer breaths and contagious devilry to offer an unpredictable trespass which has ears and appetite fired up in no time.
Across Ascendancy, with its imaginative melodic nagging amidst fiery sonic and vocal rabidity, and Mermaids where a brooding siren-esque lure beckons from within volatile seas, the album tightens its hold on body and thought; then turning the screw with its title track. Samsara is a surging thrash kilned onslaught from its first strike, rumbling rhythms inciting a sinew sculpted canter for a thrilling consumption of the senses. Its draw is further enhanced by the bestial tones of O’Donnell and the charmed tempting of acidic melodies to create another pinnacle in the lofty scenery of the album. That success is quickly followed by another in the gothic romancing of Summon the Tides. Straight away melancholic strings and bulbous beats cast an irresistible coaxing as harmonies float with celestial sighs. Of course in no time, the beast within is tearing through ears with rabid energy and stirring anthemic prowess; emerging a call to arms that punishes as it incites.
The pair of Monster and Avarice leaves deep marks with their turn to devour the senses, the first certainly living up to its name yet tempers raw barbarity with a magnetic tapestry of grooves amidst a provocative wind of sonic drama and expression. Its successor equally shows no restraint in its invasion of ears, instead escalating the fury and animosity as grooves scythe their way through the maelstrom with infectious success.
A theatre of emotion, voice, and temperamental sound within a predatory climate of invasive intensity and howling sonic winds is the best way to describe final track Absence. It epitomises the album in power and imagination, and also in that its first play or two are nothing less than potent enjoyments but it is over time that the depths of its bold technical and imaginative craft becomes clearer and more impressive.
Samsara needs time to reveal all of its mighty qualities but the bottom-line is that Karybdis is back, better than ever and ready to drive British metal on.
The self-released Samsara is available from February 19th @ https://karybdis.bandcamp.com/album/samsara
Pete RingMaster 19/02/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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