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Call me a Johnny-come-lately, but I've found a sudden degree of fascination with elements of the now widespread BDM scene, particularly the outer fringes of its spread in the former Soviet Union. The differences between said region's sound and that of its apple pie American counterparts may seem negligible at first, but a closer look reveals a looser sense of orthodoxy that involes a dabbling into the technical side of things that isn't as widely explored over here, save by some prime movers such as Dying Fetus, Suffocation, and a few newer adherents that have tended to buck the anti-virtuoso tendencies of the growing number of former deathcore turned death metal acts of late.
Katalepsy are something of an interesting character given that they were heavily immersed in the slam sound common to New Jersey on their first album. I haven't heard the debut myself, but it makes sense given that there are still some latent slam elements that creep out of the arrangement on "Autopsychosis", though they definitely take a backseat to the tech. death and traditional brutality that rules the lion's share of this album. In fact, the only thing that really separates this album from being pure Dying Fetus worship is a slightly greater frequency of flashy tapping leads and sweeping fills that is a bit more reminiscent of Necrophagist. Even the gurgling belch vocal character of Igor Filimontsev has a strong Northeastern U.S. tinge to it.
Like most albums in this style, the songs tend to run together given the frequent changes that occur within each song, exemplifying an affable ADHD tendency in the drumming and guitar work. Blasting is actually used somewhat sparingly compared to most band's I've encountered in this style, and there is a surprisingly heavy usage of slow sections with an almost through-composed smattering of guitar parts that definitely draws upon the most extreme early contributions of Suffocation and Cryptopsy, perhaps more so the latter given the latent Neo-classical tendencies of a lot of the note groupings. It's tough to really pick a standout from the bunch apart from the quirky instrumental ballad "Needles Of Hypocrisy", which almost seems to be reaching back to the pre-brutal period of death metal and throwing in some intricate progressive elements, but insofar as full length songs go, "Amongst Phantom Worlds" definitely has the most wildly different bits and pieces of modernity strung together into a single song.
While I haven't quite found myself falling in love with this subset of death metal when compared with its more melodic strains and the old school sound of 1985-1993, it is starting to grow on me a bit, and I've generally found the things that Eastern Europe has been doing with the style to be a bit more appealing given that it isn't over-simplified and reliant solely on brutality. Perhaps "Autopsychosis" could be likened to a gateway album for non-fans of BDM, but it definitely has all of the required elements to qualify for the category. It's good for an occasional spin, and it's the sort of album that Waking The Cadaver should be looking to for inspiration, starting with production practices.
To build off of an album as accomplished as brutal death metal band Katalepsy's debut with a release even more aggressive and with a much more technical streak that holds together and continually excels takes a band with a real degree of talent. With 2013's Autopsychosis Katalepsy achieved exactly this however and put together a technical death metal album that never fails to amaze throughout its entire forty minute run time. This is an album that packs in moments of incredible guitar shredding, fantastic and powerful riffs and quick bass fills with blast beats that thunder along to make for one of 2013's best death metal releases so far. Couple this with the guttural roar of vocalist and one is left with a band that is simply a master of their trade and should expect great things from the future.
From the opening power chords that lead into a fast bass solo this album never ceases in its assault on the ears with some highly technical riffing and brutal drumming. This collection of Russians know how to put together an album that never lets up as their debut showed but with the numerous line-up changes that occurred between Musick Brings Injuries and Autopsychosis the band appear to have found an even better collection of song-writers. The two guitarists are constantly interchanging their parts, weaving together a portrait of the apocalypse with their music mixing fast power chords with pinch harmonics and the occasional scaling solo to create one of the best guitar records of the year so far. Whilst this is happening drummer Evgeny is destroying his kit with some incredibly fast blast beats that are arguably every bit as accomplished as some of the better known death metal drummers such as Flo Mounier. The rhythm is anchored down brilliantly by the bassist who is of a similar level of technical proficiency as the rest of the band with his fast fills scattered throughout and marvelous ability to keep up with the rest of the band. The voice of Katalepsy is, for this album at least, Igor Filimontsev who was not present on their debut but manages to do an even better job than Mirus. Many found Mirus to be a more than capable death metal vocalist, hitting some disgusting notes and sounding somewhat like a demon behind the microphone but Igor's rock-bottom guttural tones are some of the finest in the genre and are another kettle of fish altogether.
The songs themselves are all of an absolutely incredible level and it would be splitting hairs to decide one that is weaker and one that is stronger. All the songs follow the same formula of blasting away as fast as possible with an absolutely chaotic sound to it and the occasional break in the formula, usually showcased by a quick little piece of bass work as is found in Body Bags For The Gods. Cold Flesh Citadel is one of the best collection of riffs out there with the mixture of the low end power chords from one guitarist and the high pitched tremolo picking and pinch harmonics over the top of it by the other. Each song on this release is an example of how to destroy your fingers on a guitar, with some crazy lead work that is one of the things that sets this album on a level of its own. The solo to the aforementioned Cold Flesh Citadel comes before one of the most amazing drum fills and slams in death metal, but it is so Godly that it requires many listens to full sink in. For those who thought that given the amount of changes in personnel that Katalepsy have undergone that they could not put out another amazing album, just listen to this collection of magnificent songs to get an idea of how far they have taken their sound. The production is the one thing that could have been a little stronger although every instrument is audible, the drums sound a little flat at times and the lead is too loud in the mix.
Katalepsy's follow-up to Musick Brings Injuries is a groove-ridden masterpiece of modern death metal that anyone into extreme music should hasten to indulge themselves in. Every song is a gore-soaked work of art with some fantastic and wickedly varied drumming, and the guitar work is absolutely God-tier. The vocals are monstrous and animalistic and the bass is inhuman, and this is a death metal album that deserves some exposure instead of remaining as underground as possible.
Katalepsy delivers its first full-length album in five years and immediately evident when listening to Autopsychosis is the immense sound. Severely down-tuned guitars riding atop a foundation of warm, heavy, audible bass interact with clear, varied, and sensationally pounding drums. Similarly, the singer delivers low growls, gutturals, and similarly low screams that retain discernible lyrics, skilled vocal patterns, and timing that blend seamlessly with the rest of the band's music. The vocals compliment the other instruments very well and never detract the way one could expect occasionally of bands in similar genres. The vocals are varied, powerful, and excellent.
Power - huge power - is the sound overall and what ties things together in terms of sound is a fantastic job of mixing and an elite production job along with the well-chosen equipment each member plays. 8-string guitars (yeah, so probably not down-tuned!) with active pickups, choice of tuning (likely F#, but I have yet to confirm this), amazing distortion, and the selection of amps used in the recording deliver a relentless, live-like tornado of thunder and chainsaws. The guitar sustain is otherworldly. The aforementioned warm bass guitar can be heard often outside the boundary of its main role as a viable, sheer force in the mix. The drum kit has a wide range of cymbals and other percussion; perfect snare, quality toms, and Dave Lombardo-like kick-drum sound. It's all spot on. Despite a dominant sound wall and all instruments seemingly turned to 11 (one loudah), the mix keeps everything crystal clear, yet crunchy and distorted in just the right dosages.
All the components of this band make up a machine that stomps, slams, kicks, and bludgeons the listener constantly. Some songs tactically break into timely, head-banging passages which musically describe some of the best slams imaginable. There are furious blast-beats, awesome double-bass work and crashing cymbals. Prevailing guitars deliver creative harmonics, competent soloing, and all that, but what causes me to listen over and over again to this album are the absolutely crushing guitars. Sure, anyone's favorite fix of chunking, technical string-skipping brutality; breaks, and squeals will be found, but the band also knows how to ride notes out just the right duration to provide a feeling of sheer power along with a technical brutal death meshing that one must only hear to admire. The final track, 'Taedium Vitae' probably has the most noticeable example of this where about halfway through the song they scorch you with these strokes of power that just make me smile and want to put my fists through walls. This is a regularly demonstrated skill: holding forceful notes and letting the outrageous power of the band's bass and dual guitars shine like an aircraft light in a dark cave. It's prevalent on the album and done, at times, in a way that's fairly unique to the genre. It's a trait you might find on a Dismember or Hail Of Bullets album rather than a brutal death/slam album like this one. The enhancement of many riffs using this method subtly among other blinding guitar parts gives a lot of body and depth to the guitar work and overall sound. The technicality of the album's more brutal side and those power strains are creative and diverse enough to push this band way above many other bands in this style, but something else shows up, too: groove. Not groove-metal groove, no. No. No. No. These are heavy, slamming, brutal grooves you can headbang to that find their way in to provide great relief for the technical parts around them. It's masterful . You get complex brutal death riffs, grooves, and slams in perfect balance.
Those things are details and facets that makes up the whole of an album which delivers so much in terms of its clever, quality songwriting. From the opening track 'Lurking in the Depth' with its complex drumming that first stands out and the song's climactic, torturous, Wah pedal enhanced guitar solo to the groove-influenced, knuckle-dragging slams throughout the second track (and first official single) 'Evidence of Near Death (E.N.D.)', the themes are simple and continuous: pound the living hell out of the listener at all costs. However, it's not at all that simple. While the prevailing formula might contain many of the same elements, the band's songs are complexly crafted in transitions from riff to riff and contain a multitude of changes, setups to other riffs, and tempo differences. The use of energy and totally frenetic passages, frequent breaks, and diverse riffing under simpler constructs provides new things to hear upon each re-listen to the album. Sickly riffs and putrid notes of the most slam-oriented nature are ever-present, yet intermingled properly enough that a comfortable, power-chorded and tremolo-picked sound still keeps things moving. Frequents rests and breaks add jump-stop adrenaline. There are climactic slams and subtle hooks, but the pleasantly overbearing, pounding rhythm is pervasive. There aren't endless arpeggios and technical wankery. This album won't be confused with tech death, but it is brutally technical and interesting. Every song contains its own well-written structure, an abundance of killer new riffs, and not a single track on the album is lacking. Each song has its own identity and doesn't become an incomprehensible blur.
Some of my favorites include 'Cold Flesh Citadel' and 'Pulse of the Somnambulist' for their awesome slams, and 'Evidence of Near Death' for the aforementioned slamming heavy groove, but I genuinely like every track. I would argue that every track is a stand-out track. This is an album - one of very few in any genre for me - that keeps my interest well and sounds so good that I can play it start to finish in one sitting frequently. It just sounds fantastically good - and is so good - on so many levels that I'd go as far as to call Katalepsy's Autopsychosis The Pinnacle of Slam.
What was once a slam band decided to be a more straight up BDM band. I was never a slam fan so I didn't enjoy the debut album all that much, but when I heard the demo from 2010, I began to wonder where they were going with this new sound, as it didn't really sound like anything they did in the past. Of course, they weren't the first slam band to do such a thing, as Abominable Putridity did the same with their new album back in 2012.
The new sound is somewhat justified as the bassist in the only original member left, and the new vocalist, Igor, is outside the realm of slam, so he isn't as...gurgle-sounding as the others? However, I think his vocals here are much more insane than they were in his other band, Big End Bolt. He mainly does deep and angry growls with a standard low-pitched gurgle thrown in every now and then.
Production is solid, yet not too clean, which is amazing considering that Katalepsy is not that well known, even in the metal world. For one, I can actually hear the bass pretty damn well, something I can't say for a majority of the modern metal albums these days. Nothing is too loud and it all sounds nice. The Guitar tone is deep, heavy, and crunchy, just as how it should be in brutal death metal. Most of the riff-age seems to be tech death with a sprinkle of slam. The guitar solos here are fast, but don't really add or detract to the music. They just seem to be there because "hey why not?" Not to mention, there are not many of them here. Drumming is surprisingly precise and fast despite being a human being on the drums on set and not a drum machine.
The issue I have with this album is that I felt that there was little to no real variety in the songs. All of the songs save for instrumental sound the same. Had they been more diverse, I would have given this a higher rating. Then again, I highly doubt that anyone listening to such music does so for pure musicianship and variety.
Also, the slam influences are still there, just not omnipresent like it was back on Musick Brings Injuries. The "breakdowns" here (yes, breakdowns are present in metal just as it is in hardcore. Listen to Slayer and Cannibal Corpse a little more carefully.) follow a slam pattern. I'm indifferent towards the slam this time around, but it's pretty much up to others. If you like slam a lot, give this review an extra 10 points; if you detest slam a LOT more than I do, take 10 points away.