(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by a Michigan band known as Konkeror.)
Sometimes it just baffles me how a breakout band doesn’t get noticed when their debut absolutely slays, like, everything. Konkeror are definitely one of these bands. Not only have they released a debut of extremely rare killer-quality material, they very well may have one of the best albums of the whole year.
Konkeror are extremely no bullshit, no frills, ballsy, thrashy, Middle Eastern death metal from the outskirts of Detroit who bring riffs that tame serpents, create sand storms, and slay prophets of old, accompanied by feral snarling vocals and a killer drummer whose got a sense of regality and Middle Eastern groove in his work. It’s an album loaded with influences from Melechesh, Nile, Vader, Obituary, and Immolation.
To repeat: It’s a wonder to me how a debut as killer as The Abysmal Horizons has flown under so many people’s radars. These guys are the real deal.
All of this is immediately apparent in the ass kicker of an opener, “I, Monolithic”. A foreboding acoustic intro followed by a doom riff with badass solo work ushers in a torrent of blackened death metal ferocity. The riffs here just catch your ear, attach to your memory like leeches, and mummify you from the inside out.
(photo credit: Casey Carlton)
In this song alone, guitar duo Eric Zwicker and Jake Plater demonstrate that they know what the fuck is up. The riffs are full of pizzazz, catchiness, and intelligent counterpoint, and the solos are sophisticated, enlightened, and marked by tasty harmonization.
The drums of Tobias Dennis blast away with punctual, tight consistency of a kind that is just not heard enough in today’s metal. He has that organic, tried-and-true human element, that intensity, behind his deadly precision. The turgid, granite bass and throat-ripping vocals of Jeff Beauchamp are the final ingredients to help suck you in. After this song alone, you’ll feel like someone just hit you with a truck.
That is until the truck turns into a steamroller. The Obituary-esque titanic slab of groove known as “Towers” is a mighty behemoth. Thick predatory riffs, meditative, patient, and regal, are the name of the game here, accompanied by mournful leads that might even remind one of Daylight Dies or In Mourning in a more brutal context. The thick, harmonized octaves used as accents in the riffs provide a rather ethereal sense of dread.
“Incantations” manages to channel this even better, though, as the powerful war march that is its intro charges forward. The song is punctuated by blast beats accompanied by eerie riffs and harmonies that would stand hairs up on the spine of even the most powerful of Djinn. This track’s powerful, poignant pace is really engrossing and pulls you in completely. The eerie tribal chanting only enhances the mood.
“Beyond The Abysmal” is where the band’s black metal influences really shine. The galloping riff is punctuated by heavy doses of tremolo picking and bleak chords. There is also a heavy emphasis on dual-guitar-harmony themes here, masterfully crafted and elegantly played to gravitas-producing perfection. The solo that ushers in the last third of this song is superb as well.
“Creator/Destroyer” is an absolutely vicious assault that almost borders on a blackened deathgrind feel while still maintaining the killer Middle Eastern tinged aesthetics. The groove established in the verse riff is quite something, as the drums play a particular blast beat that channels what sounds like a Middle Eastern tribal beat as the guitars play some downright dignified riffs that sound like the wrath of Anubis or Ra themselves. I really need not say it again at this point, but the solos and lead work are stellar. “Usurper of the Primal” is in the same vein, except more thrash oriented.
The 7 minute+ “The Pillars of Creation” is a trudging melodic number that will remind people of Nile, and maybe even a little bit of Australian melodeathers Be’lakor. It’s an epic, foreboding song, and something different compared to the rest of the album. There is a bit of Opeth-ian grandeur here as well. This is one of the best songs on the album for sure.
The album closes with “…And the Cosms Flow Eternal”, a fittingly brutal number that is unrelenting, attacking the listener with the ferocity and death-bringing assault of a scorpion swarm.
Konkeror have brought forth a collection of songs that prove potent enough to compete with even the most legendary of death metal veterans. It’s impressive, it’s vicious, it’s sophisticated, it’s badass. Buy it. Support these guys.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Abysmal Horizons is available now on iTunes and can be purchased on CD from the band via their official web site. The cool album art is by Mark Cooper. You can find Konkeror on Facebook via this link.