Self-released. Release date: 3rd Dec 2016.
KARMANJAKAH seemed to have crashed onto the prog scene out of nowhere and have been teasing curious fans with a taster of what’s to come with their spectacular track Color (read more about it in Weekly Roundup #11). Now the EP has finally dropped and – my goodness – Color really was just a tip of the iceberg of the unexpected mini masterpiece which is this debut EP. These progressive Swedes draw from a lot of influences, including obvious nods to djent legends PERIPHERY and TESSERACT (the latter’s own Acle Kahney actually mastered this EP), but there are also some post-hardcore vibes happening here once you dig past the dominant progressive layer.
Kicking off proceedings is Growth, which is one of the heaviest tracks on the EP. A strong introduction to the band it features all the KARMANJAKAH components which appear throughout the record; heavy riffs, soaring clean vocals with the occasional screams and just pure, blissful melodies. It is hard to put into words what mesmerising journey this EP takes you on, but the lyrics encourage you to join the band on their progressive adventure “Here I go, watch me as I lift-off”. And bloody hell do the band lift off!
Second track Proposal is another heavy affair, this time being graced with the brutal vocals of ENTHEOS’ Chaney Crabb which give the song an absolutely punishing dynamic. One of the punchiest tracks on the EP, Proposal also demonstrates how KARMANJAKAH comfortably sway between heavy genres, a debut EP is the perfect opportunity to dabble with ideas but the band seem to be able to pull off anything they try. The same goes with Color, a song which potentially could have seen critics moan about KARMANJAKAH being ‘another copycat djent band’, but the band accomplished writing such a beautifully melodic and powerful song, they should be able to stand their ground and silence the naysayers.
Fourth track The Mill is quite possibly the highlight of the album. Beginning with a chugging guitar hook, the song frequently spaces out into a spellbinding melodic haven, with a gorgeous piano accompaniment and the incredible vocals of frontman Jonas Lundquist. However, it is towards the end of this track the EP hits its peak with all these elements combining to reach what only can be described as progressive metal enlightenment. Strong words I know, but you won’t forget the first time you hear this song.
The EP finale Roselund is a storming closer. Once again bringing in the djent influences but having a killer chorus to match, you’ll be left wishing this was a full length album by the time the song starts fading out. If KARMANJAKAH can appear out of nowhere and independently release a stunning debut release such as this, then imagine what they can achieve when the KARMANJAKAH ball starts rolling.
Band to watch: KARMANJAKAH. With instant TESSERACT vibes, Color is the first song released by Swedish progressive metal band KARMANJAKAH (the name is a location in the Swedish children’s book The Brothers Lionheart). However, unlike most groups who aim to rip off the whole djent/Daniel Tompkins thing with little to no originality, KARMANJAKAH thankfully offer their own spin on things with their intelligent approach and the impressive vocals of Jonas Lundquist. Once the song absorbs you, you feel confident that the band can carve their own niche in an oversaturated scene, because as the song progresses, the sheer melodic power paves the way to the realisation that KARMANJAKAH do in fact have something new to bring to the table. Drumming up anticipation for their debut EP through this track alone, music fans are more than curious to hear what the remainder of the record will have in store when it is released 3rd December. If the blissful melodies and crushing riffs of Color are anything to go by then the EP may certainly be something very special.
Video to watch: THE KING IS BLIND. Made in collaboration with Kieran Wakeman of Divine Chaos Art, this video for East Anglia’s THE KING IS BLIND is a hellish yet a captivating visual accompaniment to the band’s bruising track Throne of Skulls. Echoes of films such as Eraserhead and Surrealist art house, hint at the disturbing and twisted content of the video. The jarring shots layer atop each other creating an unsettling array of images which make for intense viewing. The track itself is a lethal assault and will be available on the Speed Kills 7 compilation due 2nd December. If you’re after some unnerving artsy visuals and sounds then give Throne of Skulls a try.
In the stereo: ANIMALS AS LEADERS released fourth album, The Madness of Many earlier this month, and it’s safe to say, it is still on repeat ever since. A bit heavier and darker than 2014’s album The Joy of Motion, it is still unbelievable how ANIMALS AS LEADERS constantly up their own game and release masterpiece after masterpiece. The diversity of sounds on this album demonstrates how far the band push the boundaries of progressive music and composition itself, as far as utterly breaking free of limitations and creating the most mesmerising music which doesn’t seem possible by man. Stand out tracks being Arithmophobia, Backpfeifengesicht and The Brain Dance, each song has its own flare and signature motif, which is a departure from the songs on The Joy of Motion which seemed to melt into one another. ANIMALS AS LEADERS are already contemporary legends, how on earth are they going to top this?
Band to rediscover: THE HURT PROCESS. With all these emo/scremo/post-hardcore-o bands reforming and touring (i.e. SAOSIN, UNDEROATH etc) it got me thinking about similar bands I would like to hear again. This reintroduced me to THE HURT PROCESS, a melodic hardcore band from Tunbridge Wells, England, who proved that the British could play the genre just as well as their American counterparts. Releasing two albums, Drive By Monologue (2003) and A Heartbeat Behind (2005) the band were destined for big things especially after touring America on the Warped Tour in 2004. Then suddenly in 2006, the band disbanded, leaving a gaping hole in the British metalcore scene. A Heartbeat Behind is an album I often return to, due to its plentiful hooks, melodies, screams and dual vocals. It probably doesn’t sound like an original mix of components nowadays, but back in 2005 it was exciting that a home-grown ‘screamo’ band were rivalling the masters of the genre from the US. THE HURT PROCESS remain one of the most underrated underground heroes of our time.