Kanthaka – The World is Changed – 4.5/5
Yes, the joint highest scoring band in this special so far (and nearly the highest), an ‘experimental’ death metal band that has quite literally thrown the rulebook out the window. Sure there’s the growls, the blast beat drumming, and tremolo riffs, but in at least equal measure are more thrash-orientated riffs, shredded solo’s, power solo’s and gratuitous use of both the flute and clarinet to present a folk-esque touch to the sound. Not drawing enough influences outside of metal to be called Avant-Garde, as much as I hate the term ‘Experimental’ it most certainly applies here.
Opening with a soft piano introduction, it doesn’t take long to realise this is not going to be a standard death metal band. Melodic guitars come into play, and produce an atmosphere of tension, anticipation for all out aggression. And it comes, with a sudden halting, a quick scream before a blast of the drums and one of the most addictive riffs of the album, the transition might leave you slightly confused if not the wealth of talent that immediately approaches your ears. This is not to be the last of these sudden transitions.
This album is largely instrumentally based. Whilst the growls add another layer to the sound created, that isn’t the focus. Instead, were presented with a plentiful supply of dark emotion, melodic guitar lines, classically influenced piano sections, guitar riffs and solo’s galore, and multiple transitions between styles. From all out Black metal aggression, created from a melodic and slightly gothic piece, seamlessly turning into a thrash style section before turning back into all out aggression mode, each track brings something slightly different to the table, and the sheer multitude of styles never ceases to impress. It is as though they have taken the best pieces from each different sub-genre and woven them together to form a coherent track.
Its hard to pinpoint what stands out – focus is inevitably diverted to whoever is at the forefront at that particular time. The guitar solos vary immensely from a ‘Kerry King with a sense of melody’ style to the epic works of Petrucci in Dream Theatre, and everywhere in between. The vocals are used infrequently, but when they are, don’t disappoint. A great tone is created, from these high pitched demonic growls, both harsh and perfectly fitting for the atmosphere required but I can see them being quite monotonous if they were used more often. And onto the clarinet, possibly my favourite instrument of the genre mash-ups, often more akin to a sort of solo than a riff, work more effectively than I could have conceived.
This album is immense. If you have a love for the metal genre in all its forms, there should be no question that this is a must have. The atmospheres and tones created are simply outstanding, the constant variation, the staccato changes in aggression, the solo’s, addictive and speedy riffs, there is nothing done wrong here. This debut album has certainly caught my attention, and I simply hope they follow up soon. This is death metal, but not as you know it.
Highlights: Honestly? Every single track could be listed here.
By T. Bawden