Of Darkness And Light

Written by: MN on 01/04/2014 13:47:18

Akb'al was first described to me as tribal/world metal and with that description, I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to review these Welsh debutants. Being a huge fan of world music in all of its manifestations, anything that combined these two darlings of my life in one concoction is surely not to be missed. As I press the play button I find myself very ambivalent at first when hearing what Akb'al has to offer. It is only after the second spin of the entire record that I start to understand their objective. Akb'al employs a sound that straddles the border of rock and metal. Within the rock sphere of influence, you will witness grungy rock reminiscent of Alice N Chains, but more importantly, the sound has a psychedelic feel to it. On the metal front, the industrial undertones found in certain tracks leads the mind towards works of Mike Patton and Nine Inch Nails. On a more primal note, elements of Soulfly and Godsmack are also very present. The overall experience is that Akb'al embraces a borderless sound where the eclecticism in choice of sounds are meant to be noticed.

Michael Young-Temple, the founding member, initially conceived the idea of Akb'al through his travels and with this inspiration sought to create a sound that has a world feel to it, most explicitly by employing tribal instruments such as the djembe, didgeridoo and tablas. By gathering singer, guitarist and violinist Thoby Davis, guitar/synth player Rob Miles and the drummer Michael Hourihan, Akb'al became the quartet they are today.

Their debut record “Of Darkness And Light” is a seven track record providing a great taster to what Akb'al are capable of. The opening track “Of Darkness” sets off in a very morose manner with hints of Neurosis brought into the mix. This eerie introduction is eventually retired by highly industrial sounds where some cyborg-shriek vocals and heavy riffage punch the listener into submission. The follow up track “The Ride” employs some of the promised tribal drumming along with a brilliant baseline. The sound has now morphed itself into a clear rock/nu-metal expression, not unlike some Static-X productions. Their first single “Equilibrium” is a gargantuan nine minute track where the song is allowed to grow slowly in increased suspense. The melodious chorus is memorable but more captivating is the deep and full-bodied instrumental sections in the verse and interludes, where tones of meditative enlightenment raise this track to Akb'al's highest level of artistic expression. “Pacha Mama” (the Andean version of Mother Earth) is another great highlight of this album. The song develops in intensity and releases one of the most befitting guitar solos, not unlike something the great Tom Morello would have written. The final track “Light” is in polar contradiction to the opening track as it relies on a loungy approach where the tribal drums and didgeridoo are allowed to take the album into its denouement.

Akb'al are in my opinion a very original outfit, mainly due to the tribal/world intricacies found scattered around this debut. The songs which have been mentioned are the ones that completely stand out from the rest of the album in my opinion. I wouldn't necessarily named the remaining tracks “fillers” but they definitely don't retain the vivification of the other tracks. That being said, I am a big fan of incorporating world influences into what I consider to be an increasingly less conservative metal world. Keep up the good work and come back even stronger, Akb'al.


Download: Of Darkness, Light, Pacha Mama, Equilibrium
For The Fans Of: Godsmack, Porcupine Tree, Alice In Chains, Tomahawk
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 10.02.2014

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