(NCS writer Israel Flanders provides not only his review of a fascinating new death-metal album from a Russian band called Kartikeya, but also — with the band’s permission — a special surprise at the end of the review.)
It’s very rare that I find death metal that’s TRULY note worthy and stands out to me much anymore. The genre, especially in the so called “brutal” death metal tag, has gotten really stale to me, but I am always looking for new bands to capture my interest. I went surfing for new music as per usual and happened to come across a gem of a band — Moscow’s Kartikeya, and we’re here to check out their second album Mahayuga.
Kartikeya is a rather strange beast in this era of excessive blast beats and musically fraudulent technical wank. Imagine the speed, symphonics, and intensity of The Monolith Deathcult and the progressive nature and melodic sense of Ihsahn, and throw in fully inclusive Indian folk elements, and you have Kartikeya. There is a lot of fun to be had on this album, what with its catchy riffing, its full-frontal brutality assault on the senses, the Indian atmosphere and vibe, and the superb melodic moments when they spring up.
The album opens with the instrumental “Sarga Manvalem”, beginning with some nice eastern ambiance before breaking into a riff and a melody that will remind you of former Israeli black metallers Melechesh and an imperial war march of double bass and low-tuned brutal droning. I like how this introduces the album, as the intensity of it continues building until we hit an Indian chant section that comes out of nowhere and throws you off balance. (more after the jump . . .)
Then comes the savagely speedy opener “He Who Carries The Head Of Brahma”, and with this song we truly realize the scope of the Indian elements being incorporated. Sections that alternate between brutal blast beats and eastern riffing are complimented by giant open sections with chanting and various Indian folk instrumentation behind them. The song ends on more of this eastern-flavored ambiance for awhile until the guitars strike a final chord that fades out, signaling the listener’s end.
The song fades into the next dish of sonic punishment called “The Path”, which lulls the listener with a kickass sitar intro that will have you humming along. It proceeds into a massive, heavy version of this same melody and smashes you with some dissonant riffing and savage blasting. This is one of the full-speed-ahead songs on the album until it hits… what’s that? A chorus? With clean vocals!? Yes, in fact it is and it works very well, carrying a very Ihsahn-like vibe with it. This is a pretty straight-forward song with an absolutely ripping solo by guitarist Roman Iskorostenskiy.
Next is the song “Fields Of Kurukshetra”, and it’s at this point you realize this album isn’t fucking around anymore. This is brutal, pure, and uncompromising death metal at it’s finest with some REALLY tasteful Jewish dance-like grooves in the middle.
I’m not going to go much further because I have a surprise for you all. Not only am I providing you with YouTube links to sample this album, guitarist Roman Iskorostenskiy has allowed me to put up BOTH of Kartikeya’s albums for free. Links for the albums will be below the YouTube links.
Download Links (right-click to save):
The download file for Mahayuga includes photo images from the album’s CD insert, which are really striking pieces of art. Here are a few of the pages: