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A manic cartoony folk metal soundtrack - 65%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, September 15th, 2018

So far these guys have released just two EPs - "Echoes of the Past" is the second EP - which has me scratching my head as, judging this second recording, Kaatarakt sound confident enough to have issued it as a full album with longer music and maybe a couple more songs. The band's style is lively enough if perhaps not very original and there's plenty of humour in the way the guys play, add little playful touches of keyboard melody here and there, and go for broke with tricky squiggly little toy tunes with the deepest of deep death-metal guttural voices at the same time. Technically, Kaatarakt are very professional in the way they write metal pop songs that deliver all they need to within a six-minute limit and no more, and in that space punch through powerful riffs, fiery lead guitar solos, thundering stick-work and duelling BM-versus-DM vocals, and this attention to song composition is the band's crowning glory. At the same time though, the musicians deflate any pomposity the music might fall into with the dickiest, fussiest keyboard work with mind-boggling synth squiggle melodies and saccharine faux-mediaeval tunes. The result is music that has a very schizophrenic personality: it aims to be a thrill ride into soaring epic folk metal but it's let down by some of the most stilted cartoony music the band can muster this side of a soundtrack to a Disneyland catastrophe made of a genuine fairy story.

The recording proper begins with "The Gathering" which is quite a good song, very stirring and atmospheric. A bit of silliness starts to creep into "Màttr Ok Megin" with those suspiciously skippetty riffs and the tinkly piano but the atmosphere remains grim and cold and the riffs aren't bad. The song is too busy and fast for my liking - it needs to slow down in parts for real emotion to come out. But I'm starting to suspect that writing songs with feeling, atmosphere and emotion fell off Kaatarakt's agenda. Come the last two songs and the band is throwing everything the guys can think of: majestic thunderous music mixed with silly cartoon tunes, even more cartoony fake folk flute notes - and hey, who let that accordion in? - and rapid-fire tremolo guitar riffs when and where they can squeeze in through the bewildering parade of toy-box melodies.

The entire work reminds me of some manic soundtrack to a polished but ultimately forgettable anime film featuring just about every forced-fusion Asian / Western heroic stereotype character designed to please everyone and then everyone. (Forgive me for the demented prose but not for the first time is the English language failing me in replicating everything I wanna say!) Along the way, feeling has fallen by the wayside and as if to compensate the sterile music packs in as much sonic spectacle as it can. This is a case where too much technical professionalism and being too knowing about music, musical styles and what works together and what doesn't combine into a work that ends up sounding artificial and mechanical.