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The Pinnacle Of Slam - 97%

Misfit74, January 13th, 2013

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.