Katakombi - _Katakombi_
(Independent, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Ah, Finland, the land of Nokia cell phones and fucked up metallic expressions. The Finnish metal artists, as a collective, have never really invented anything, generally speaking; but they have always, somehow, managed to take what's out there and twist it back and forth until it would abide to their command, re-shaping the fundamentals and infusing them with a different set of aesthetics, a new meaning and singular sonic interpretation -- ultimately making the result singular and estranged, streamlined with the forward thinking visions of the artists.

Take for instance bands like Unholy, Aarni or Umbra Nihil in the doom department; Enochian Crescent or Beherit in the black department of metal; or Sentenced and Funebre in the death metal one; the common denominator has always been an acute psychedelic, groovy vibe that had rendered the music askew and sinister. It was like listening to metal, but also like listening to something altogether different, as if each and every recording has been covered by a shroud of morbidity and Lovecraftian enigma with a purposeful, conscious aspiration to delve into the murky waters of non-musicality on par with the troubled minds that have spawned those sonic abominations (in a positive musical point of view, that is). In that sense, the Finnish metal artists were the true bearers of the banner of avantgarde, following the genre's aesthetics yet breaking the mold at the very same time.

Katakombi's perception of music by no means distances itself from that exact mode of operation. Their self-titled EP, currently released exclusively on vinyl (which is a great thing in itself), but also available for streaming on the band's Bandcamp site, captures that volatile sound of the left hand path (as well as the left-field, for that matter) many a metal musician strive to conjure and restore, but really only the few and select manage to revive that sonic embodiment of madness and horror like Katakombi et al manage to pull off.

Supposedly something really wicked has been hovering above Finland, poisoning the very waters of the populace, yielding in turn a mass psychosis affecting the most sensitive of the lot, namely the artists; the evidence of its very existence lies with the music those artists create.

It's like taking dark music and making it darker still; like taking the very basics of doom metal and twisting them to such a degree until they sound like crazed black metal of the most harrowing kind, neglecting not the grotesque melody, the bizarre atmosphere and the mind-altering psychedelia. Which brings us to this recording...

_Katakombi_ is comprised of three tracks, reaching the 26 minutes mark, where fuzz, groove and Neanderthal doom-laden metal are on display, having a strong occult vibe and both black and death metal leanings that render the recording heavy and noisy whenever the band are not preoccupied with expressing their lunatic, psychedelic idiosyncrasy alluded by strange keyboards and unorthodox rock / metal structures that boil down to the ritualistic and the dissonant.

The sound is brutish and crass, bass-heavy and fleshy, but the electric guitars have a mellower buzzing fuzz characteristic that stands in stark contrast to the rhythm section. The drumming is, in essence, of the ritualistic kind, its enormity and impact inflated by the crude and eccentric bass guitar sound; pulsating, rhythmic heartbeat of a monster, pumping black pus and spreading its poison via the loudspeakers.

The vocals are the heralds of negativity, as they are by no means related to doom metal: screeches from the pits of hell itself, full of anguish and animosity, alternate with whisperings; these are coupled with a dreary melody that walks the seam between occult rock and total psychedelic / avantgarde fuzz. The synthesizer's sinister sound, merging funeral tunes with astral soundscapes, infuses the metallic scenery with surreal agendas, and while the infinitesimally short-lived metallic moments par excellence are not the most outstanding attribute on this EP (occasionally sounding like a generic but decent sludge/doom), when combined, the arguable metal aesthetic, the synthesizer, the simple, Black Sabbath-like occult rock riffs and the screeching banshee that's on the vocals -- it all sounds like a single, dark unit emanating palpable darkness, with a capital D.

The revivalism of the old ways has also touched _Katakombi_, in that the band create an ancient sound clashing with modern production, using vintage keyboard sound and '70s occult doom rock paradigms to create melancholic and intimidating music that does not abide to the rules of metal music. The Finnish language -- exclusively ornamenting the three tracks -- adds an additional dimension of bizarreness to the already semi-psycho active sonic display, with its unique pronunciation and general sound; an alien tongue hailing from foreign and mysterious realms, full of angst and spite. Fans of Howls of Ebb and Blizaro will cream their pants when listening to _Katakombi_, but this short yet meaningful recording is highly recommended to fans of Hawkwind and (old) Unholy as well.

_Katakombi_ is a short (too short) and wonderful endeavor that has created a world of its own; a world painted with strange colors and pummeling desolation you really wouldn't like to live in, but only graze with your ears and soul for its beautiful yet unwelcoming essence and reverberating misanthropy.

Contact: http://katakombi.bandcamp.com/

(article published 18/6/2014)


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