Delivered on a nice hefty slab of black wax, Finnish band Katakombi intrigued with three tracks on their first official release following on from a demo in 2012. They have only been active for a few short years but have forged an intriguing sound that’s none too easy to categorise but is quite an experimental exercise bordering on doom and death metal. They have played at home with some names familiar to us such as Oranssi Pazuzu, Domovoyd and Dark Buddha Rising and this may well give a clue of just where they fit in, in the grand scheme of things.
The first few minutes of the epic first side of the vinyl see them building up a structure on the number Väärä kuu. Its synthesized slow, cold pulsing that reminds heavily of John Carpenter theme music for the likes of The Thing, instantly taking me to ice capped Finnish vistas and making me shiver. However around this are what I can only describe as psychedelic spacey, tripped out fluttering sounds that go from Krautrock through to Hawkwind in much the same way as aforementioned countrymen Oranssi Pazuzu. It leaves you in a limbo wondering what is going to happen when it all comes crashing down, as you know it will inevitably do. At close to 5 minutes drums take up a slow beat and things expand slowly, around the keyboards a riff uncoils and slithers about and the track gets its groove on brooding heavily and tensing up. With the layers now all solidified, the track flows between hefty glacial peaks and slow moribund parts and all that’s missing are the vocals. Coming in at a slow part they are really craggy and heavily pronounced in their own language. Naturally they lose me with any meaning but they gurgle almost in tone with the music. It’s interesting and intriguing and quite gentle after the early small avalanche. You feel quite chilled listening to it all but there is a feeling of unsettled danger waiting in the wings and soon enough a wild roar is unleashed. It’s not done with us yet as some really heavy bass fuzz and rattling vocals take us into the final part which sounds almost like it could be a separate song. Strange sounds are forged out of the synths too and it feels like your head is going to melt as everything ties up and oozes to a finish.
There’s no build up on side two as Liejuhaudan vanki gets its hooks and claws in. Riffs judder away and the gravid vocals sound rough and raw. It’s got a melodic thrust about it and an almost crusty blackness as shredding vocals and discordant riffing slews away. It’s not a comfortable listen, everything seems to be at odds with each other but it gels and slows to a crawl with just clattering drums, snares and keys making fragmentary noise. There’s some bubbling noises going on and I wonder if someone’s having a water bong, it’s all gone weird and my heads starting to melt again as quiet tribal drumming, eerie keyboard sounds and chanting voice suddenly crash into a jagged sound deluge for the final part. ‘Sokea jumala’ apparently ‘The Blind God’ wraps it all up with more slab like juddering grooves and harsh vocals. By now I am getting used to the non linear structures going on here but it hardly makes it any less confusing as just when it really gets into its stride everything slows right down again.
This is quite an imaginative and abstract disc; well it certainly got my imagination running even if I did feel a bit lost with the exact themes going on with it. Katakombi have delivered an intriguing debut that is also highly original. They certainly are not a band to be littered with references to sounding like others that’s for sure. Give this a listen at the link below and make your own mind up, or feel it melt in the process!
(7/10 Pete Woods)