Saturday, May 5, 2012

Album Review: Alpha-Beta by Krokmitën - 9/10

     Canada never ceases to amaze me with the musical talent. From Montreal, an experimental death metal band named Krokmiten rises from the ashes after being on hiatus from 1995 to 2005. Since coming back, they have been working on and released a project that spans over 46 minutes, and doesn't let up on the brutality, mystery, and experimentation. alpha-beta isn't just a collection of songs thrown together into an album, much like what many bands do nowadays. Instead it is more so an experience that you simply immerse your ears and emotion. Here is the review.


     alpha-beta is actually one of those albums that is either very easy or more difficult describe and review. Giving this album a few listens from front to back, I wasn't sure how to write everything down in a reviewing perspective. alpha-beta is just one of those albums that takes several listens, and once it finally clicks in your head, it all works together and doesn't disappoint. Death metal definitely plays a role through the entire album, utilizing low end, almost guttural side of the genre. Alongside the vocals you have yourself the fast-paced, energetic drums, you'd find yourself seeing in a lot of the more driven death metal bands. Krokmiten introduces more of an experimental element on top of all of this, which includes the use of the guitar as well as additions of differing audio clips and off the wall compositions.

     "The Reversed Speech" starts out the album in an almost passive-aggressive tone. Raw vocals and a driving rhythm push out a slow building intensity. The guitar stands out very well, accenting the rhythms when necessary. They also take up arms throughout the album, with well executed solos, that pop up every now and then. The tone plays a vital role, especially for my tastes. "Surrender" uses much of the same formula, feeding off of the momentum from the previous, except it acts more as a build up to the next track. "Panic Attack", which acts as a finale to the beginning of alpha-beta. "La Transformation"'s titled describes exactly what it is, the transformation into the next part of the story. The album progresses into the next phase, somewhat slowly. This may be one of the few flaws of the album, or one of its greatest attributes.


     "Cocktail of Blood" changes the pace of the album yet again. Briefly, introducing the idea from the beginning. The building up begins, straying from the simple aggression to a more complex brutal make up. "The Thirst" is a nice little instrumental that adds more to "Cocktail of Blood", acting mostly as an extension, but you can tell that it itself has its own theme. Intensity increases as "Locked in a Red Room" bellows from the speakers. So far into the album, I feel somewhat of a tie to the old school style of death metal. "Hidden Knowledge" changes this vibe however, showing influences more so of the experimental light. "Self Hypnosis" adds more to this, with the addition of augmented speaking, somewhat irregular instrumentals, and well placed ambient usage.

     Traversing over halfway through the album, especially in the first listen, you can't help but feel somewhat lost in the theme. Krokmiten still hasn't lost any sort of pace in the aggression category up to this point. "Maculate Conception" continues off, adding in a bit more of elegance, and what sounds like a well defined guitar solo. Further into this half, Krokmiten puts more experimentation into each piece. A very good example of this would be in the track titled "Nativus Malesuadus", which introduces instruments not heard before in the album. Ambient elements play a key factor in this piece, as well as in the next, "Contagium Famositas". alpha-beta increases the speed at which it goes forward, introducing more sporadic and the not-so-lengthy songs. Although I'm not a big fan of shorter length compositions, Krokmiten makes it so that you don't even notice, as these tracks melt into one another almost like a single track. You don't realize this is happening, however, until you're on to the final track, "Oroboros". "Oroboros" ranks as one of the best endings of a concept album. You can't help but get the feeling that you're being watched or something will just explode right out of the speakers.

     Overall... well, after listening to this piece of art, I really don't have any sort of negative comment. Although the beginning can be slightly repetitive, depending on what you're listening to, that soon fades away once the album kicks off. The work that these guys have put into this album is astounding. The last half of the album is by far my favorite, as it contains a lot more of my style, introducing that experimentation I long for in a lot of bands that define themselves as that genre. I find myself playing this album from time to time, more often then others even. However, the idea behind this work most likely won't hit some listeners, as it takes a full listen (and more) to really get the full emotion from it. So if you're into concept albums, give this a listen. You won't be disappointed.


Rating: 9/10
Release Date: August 2011
Recorded at SLA-M Studio. Mixed and Mastered by Expaz Miouzik. Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Interview: LINK HERE

Track Listing:

1. The Reversed Speech
2. Surrender
3. Geisteszustand
4. Panic Attack
5. La Transformation
6. Cocktail of Blood
7. The Thirst
8. Locked in the Red Room
9. Hidden Knowledge
10. Self-Hypnosis
11. Maculate Conception
12. Nativus Malesuadus
13. Contagium Famositas
14. La Thérapie
15. Epileptic Seizure
16. Corporeal Reanimation
17. Upheaval
18. Occam's Razor
19. Oroboros


Lineup:

Simlev - Guitar/Vocals
Dubg - Guitar
Mathz - Drums

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