Hey there tech fiends, it's that time of the week again. I'm excited to be back bringing new music to your ears all year long. Before we dive into today's focus, here's the usual reminder that if you're looking for more sick music, all prior editions of this series can be perused here.
Just a couple years ago, a phenomenal group called Okazaki Fragments from Calgary popped out of nowhere and delivered their lone release, Abandoned. That record was one I quickly became obsessed with and still listen to it a lot. Here's a link to Okazaki Fragments – Abandoned for those who haven't heard of it and dig the idea of Gorguts writing a fucked up sounding technical death grind record. The seeds for the group's style and some of their line-up started even earlier with a band called Akakor. Unfortunately, Akakor broke up before Okazaki Fragments was born, but due to a series of complex life-upending situations, Akakor's posthumous self-titled album, Akakor, is only now coming out six or so years after their breakup around the time recording of it began.
Normally that doesn't sound like a recipe for a quality release, something that's been shelved for many years often tends to conjure the idea that it stayed that way for a reason. However, this Akakor album defies that notion, and if anything, it sounds far ahead of its time, in all it's skronky, disorienting, and demented glory. So it goes without saying, if you aren't down with dissonance or quirky angular tech-death, this one won't be for you. If that, however, sounds like a good time, there's no doubt in my mind Akakor will stand as a release that leaves jaws agape. This is intense and impressive music from the onset of opener "Twin Obelisk", which carves a jagged forward momentum through a multitude of ever-shifting rhythms in just under three minutes. From there, the maddening hits keep on rolling, and while it maintains a fairly relentless pace and frequently spastic nature throughout, "Instrumental" does slow down the pace and show a different side of the band's dark music. Which is mirrored by the somewhat slower and dreary first half of the album's closer, "To Evolve", which reminds me of Baring Teeth at their most doomy and bizarre. Though at times "To Evolve" does switch and goes into a frenzied whiplash partway through and changes course a few times back towards the bands typically speed-addled and disorienting as hell brand of technical death metal.
If you want a frame of reference, imagine Gorguts fed through a Behold The Arctopus mindset and approach, then aided by a massive adrenaline shot of deathgrind energy and hyper-activity, and topped with a mathcore influence in much of the chaotic guitar work, acrobatic bass playing, and spastic songwriting style employed. Speaking of bass, since there are no vocals on the album, you can hear more of the rich interplay between musicians, and it gives a lot more room in the mix for the excellent bass playing to shine through. Colin Marston once again worked his magic on this album, making it sound the absolute best it could as only he seems capable of doing in the world of technical death metal releases. I'll be the first to admit that a lot of instrumental tech-death is hard for me to get into, but Akakor somehow keeps me engaged from start to finish, mainly due to the sheer density and ingenuity of the music on display here.
Releases as good as Akakor deserve to be highlighted and shared widely, even as a post-humous release sans vocals. And as a 100% free release, this is a no-brainer to pick up and give it a few spins. Which you'll definitely need to unpack all that it has to offer. Although it stands as a swansong, Akakor is an incredibly strong album brimming with an intense battery of unorthodox sounding technical death metal head and shoulders above many bands in the genre.