Monday, July 15, 2013

Krig - Decay's Beholder (2013)

How do you follow up your heaviest, tightest, most musically adept album so far in your career?  There are two ways.  First, try and one-up the previous release, and potentially fail, or at worst be criticized as resting on your laurels and not trying something new.  Second, you can go in a different direction and truly try something new, at least within the context of what you are as a band.  Krig has opted for door number two, going from the near-perfect combination of heaviness, melody, brutality, and experimentation of "Narcissistic Mechanism" to the more obtuse "Decay's Beholder".  Don't get me wrong, the band is still heavy - more brutal than they've ever been, in some ways.  But this outing sees the band veering into much more experimental territory, adding some interesting electronics and elements that give them an almost Frank's Enemy sort of vibe, though arguably more well constructed than that band's material showed to be.

The guitar sound on this album is even crunchier and meatier than on "Narcissistic Mechanism", if that's even possible.  While the previous album focused on heaviness married with melodicism, this album is squarely in the brutal camp, though melody is still a vital component.  But the riffs here are meant less to be melodically accessible as on previous efforts, and the emphasis is on both heaviness and experimentation.  There are guitar solos present that don't squeal as much as you'd think they would with the kind of guitar tone and distortion present in the riffs, so obviously the band has found a balance there.  Bass sounds great here - it's heavy and present in the mix, and because of the more experimental nature of the music, there's more going on with it at times.  I felt like there were a few bits that were even "funky" which was a nice touch.  It's nice to hear the bass without having to listen for it, so production-wise this was a good choice.  Drumming is adept as usual, though the overall drum sound is a bit less powerful than everything else.  There's a bit less "thump" than I would like with the bass and toms, though the snare remains sufficiently punchy.  In addition to these basics, there are a number of keyboard effects used throughout that highlight this release's more experimental nature, and I liked the way they're used to accent or augment different spots, and provide a bit of atmosphere in a couple places where the song might be slightly sparse otherwise.  I also really enjoyed the inclusion of the sampled horn section in "Foolish Evildoers III" and the whole vibe, and so far, that's my favorite of the "Foolish Evildoers" tracks they've released so far.

Vocally, Daniel Corpse is still as brutal as ever, with primarily mid-low range growls in the mix.  Occasionally, he'll go for a higher pitched sound in spots to change it up, but he mostly stays in that mid or lower range.  He's not as guttural as, say, Brooke Reeves' earlier material with Impending Doom, but it's still pretty heavy stuff.  This isn't wimpy death metal, by any stretch, and Daniel's vocals echo that with plenty of aggression and emphasis.  Lyrically, the album covers a range of topics, from growing inhumanity in our culture ("Decay's Beholder") to comparing oneself to Jesus' level of servitude ("33"), to the insincere way some people "protect" the environment or support/reject other philosophies ("Drink the Third World").  As with other Krig albums, you're getting somewhat broken English, but the band can be forgiven for that, given their native Portuguese in Brazil.  It's a solid set, despite that minor complaint.

All in all, it's a bit hard to compare this effort with past Krig releases, because it kind of stands on its own.  It would be interesting to hear where the band will chart a course from here, because each previous release sort of led them to what "Narcissistic Mechanism" was.  Rather than resting on those laurels, the band has changed things up and tried something new.  I applaud them for that, and I think the experiment mostly works.  The songs aren't as immediately catchy as the last couple releases, but upon repeated listens, I think you'll find, as I did, that the songs do stick with you, and you'll find yourself in air guitar mode more than once during the album, mimicking the riffs.  I would recommend this to Krig fans especially, with the obvious caution that it doesn't sound like previous releases, and death metal fans in general should enjoy this thoroughly.


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