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German funeral drone band Kodiak released this album, "Kodiak" as their first full length, despite only having two songs. However, those two songs are fairly lengthy neither one is under eighteen minutes. So you will probably think by now this will be one, long drone-fest , but there are certain elements that keep this release interesting.
Firstly, the opening track, aptly called "Beginning", starts off with a sorrowful sounding cello, and it sets a mood of sadness and despair quite nicely. After about a minute and a half, the first droning guitar chord joins up, and it plays the same melody as the cello, until that itself fades out, leaving the guitar alone with the now accompanying drums, which play a decidedly slow beat for the remainder of the song. The guitar does change chords during this song and the song does pick up a little towards the end, but overall, after the cello fades out nothing truily exciting happens. The beginning of this song grabs you, and throughout the eighteen minutes of the song, it can become easy to lose interest or zone out from the music, unless you're intently listening. Then again, it's best to review an album like this while actively listening to it, instead of reviewing it as background music.
So after the first track, we have "End". The last track (of course). This is a longer track, clocking in at 21 minutes, and this is pretty much "Beginning" reversed. Nothing happens in the start of this song. Instead, it's the ending that grabs your attention. After a slow drum beat drives the song along through the majority of the track, around the fifteen minute mark is where a new riff comes in following the drums. It repeats for a couple minutes, until it all explodes into heavy, loud distortion, with a loud drum beat driving it along. This climax really gets your attention, as it pretty much comes out of nowhere. This whole album is pretty quiet, save for the climax of "End", which is my highlight of the album. It's unlike drone to be this loud and in your face, but it is, and it's a nice change from just 80bpm Sunn guitar feedback, the kind of drone i like as well, but also the kind most people associate with drone as a whole.
This whole album is instrumental, and i think at certain spots, like in the middle of both tracks, it could of benefited from some vocal s, maybe some far off screams or whispers, just to get your attention back. Without any vocals at all, it can be hard to keep your attention on the songs, until the good parts happen. And the main standout parts are the beginning of "Beginning" and the end climax of "End". That gives a lot of monotonous drone to sit through, but with the right listening experience, headphones on head, in a dark room, sitting through this whole album waiting for the good parts to come is more worth it.
I give Kodiak credit for putting some interesting parts into this album, like the sorrowful cello section in "Beginning", and the loud booming ending of "End", but it's not enough to make it fully interesting through the whole duration of the album. While good, it's just not great. The band has released this for free, so if you like drone and want something to add to your collection, there is no reason not to get this. If you want to get into drone, you can try this out and see if you like it, and if you don't like drone at all, this album wont change your mind about it.
My search for funeral dooms saving grace continues with a seemingly well respected three-man German group called Kodiak. Until their split album with Nadja, a colossal Canadian drone/doom band, I had no idea this band even existed. Through my blatant fanboyish ways when it comes to Nadja, I was introduced to this bands torturous blend of drone and doom, though not through their split with the Canadian duo, but through their self-titled full-length effort, an album which I managed to pick up for free from the bands record label as they’re kindly allowing people to download it legally. I had few expectations as I took my first venture into the world of funeral doom/drone in the form of Kodiak, but I had expected them to be like a less dreamy version of Nadja, given the fact that this band also attempts to blend funeral doom into their atmosphere.
Having listened to Kodiak’s debut, I can safely say the two cannot be compared. Unless you’re looking to draw comparisons from minor details like lengthy songs, then there is no comparison to be made as they’re worlds apart. Blending different spectrums of the metal universe together is a difficult task, but it’s made even harder when one of those genres you’re looking to incorporate with another is funeral doom. Of course, Kodiak have played it somewhat safe in merging it with drone since drone and doom are very alike in many respects. They can both be pretty sluggish genres, especially when combined as Kodiak do here with their two mammoth songs, one titled ‘Beginning’ and the other ‘End’. Out of the two, ‘Beginning’ is definitely the stand-out addition to this full-length, but perhaps not for reasons you might expect if you have heard the song for yourself. In regards to this being funeral dooms saving grace, well, it isn’t.
In actual fact, this debut full-length is just a continuation of all things mediocre as far as the unhealthy sub-genre and its beleaguered reputation goes. The one reason which makes ‘Beginning’ stand out is the lush opening to the song. It begins with a really sombre string section. I assume the sound is created by a lone cello, though it could have help in forging the brilliant, but unfortunately short introduction to what is a song of considerable length (it clocks in at just under twenty minutes long). The more I listen to this song, the more it seems to follow a certain pattern and, possibly, the more a storyline is revealed, giving me the impression that this album is a concept album. Now, there are vocals available on this song, or so I think, but they’re distant, harsh and too indecipherable to make out. Lyrics are not important. Instead, it is the emotional value of the instrumentation and vocal outlet which is important.
Given the nature of the song titles, I’d like to believe I’m correct in thinking there is some sort of concept behind the material. The way ‘Beginning’ begins, evolves and ends also seems to back up my ideas. In the beginning we have a solitary cello, this plays out the most sullen of sounds. After a minute or two, the cello is joined by a distorted guitar and slow, heavy percussion with pivotal crashing cymbals that initiate the progression of the song and the album. The cello, unfortunately, eventually fades away leaving a much more hollow shell of instrumentation. Though the guitar continues the same song structure, playing exactly what the cello had done before it, the elongated chords, heavy repetition really don’t have the same affect as that of the beautiful cello, an instrument which added a significant amount of depth to the shallow atmosphere in a matter of seconds. When the cello is omitted from the song, ‘Beginning’ evolves into a generic description of anger, pain and loneliness.
The song itself is much cleaner than I had expected, but the guitars and bass do use a lot of distortion and feedback effects which make the atmosphere swell up somewhat. After a number of monotonous minutes, the vocals come into play and add very little to the album. They’re distant, dissonant screams of a slightly black metal variation. They’re muted so they don’t overwhelm, or overshadow any other element. The guitars and percussion continue to dominate for long periods, dully and without too much depth. The addition of the cello towards the end would have been an exquisite way to wrap things up, but it never comes. The song eventually gets heavier and heavier, in the way Corrupted build their songs but without as much impact. The slow, trudging atmospheres are fine, but mediocre and not in the least bit memorable. The repetitious guitars become stale, the percussion becomes dull and, thankfully, the vocals fade into the bleakness of the atmosphere.
‘End’ is equally as disappointing, though it doesn’t have the same opening. It isn’t anywhere near as captivating, mind blowing, or beautiful. The guitar work reminds me of a number of post-metal bands who use shimmering atmospherics in their build-ups. Lots of feedback, slowly introduced percussion through the cymbals and an aquatic style of atmosphere, but the song doesn’t have the middle or an end worthy enough of my time. The same slow, tedious build-ups leave me with the impression that the songs could, and probably should have been cut down and into smaller chunks because the mediocrity of the instrumentation for long parts doesn’t require twenty or so minutes to progress. Though this album seems to want to highlight the slow inducing nature of pain, the way it gradually builds, takes over, becomes so huge that nothing else seems important anymore, but eventually fades in time could have been achieved in half the time and with more effort to create longevity through captivating instrumentation, something which doesn’t become a factor until at least sixteen minutes into ‘End’ which feels too little, too late. There are flashes of worthiness, but most of the album unfolds in an unspectacular fashion. Distinctly average.