Written by: AP on 23/12/2014 17:08:02

Sometimes, things just need to be kept simple. ”It’s mostly beards and riffs”, reads the short description on Krokodil’s Facebook page, and for all intents and purposes the statement is an accurate reflection of the Britons’ style and sound. The group’s debut album “Nachash” (Hebrew for a serpent) is a noisy, muscular, hair chested slab of prog-sludge which draws clear parallels to the early work of Mastodon, peppered with the abrasive sound of Neurosis, the monumental weight of Glass Cloud, and the oddball rhythmic ideas of the late SikTh. Incidentally, one of the driving forces behind Krokodil is the menacing bass work of one James Leach, who forged underground fame with the latter and is now allegedly a part of the enigmatic The Hell - and indeed upon closer inspection, although Krokodil may seem like a novice band by reputation, their entire line-up is actually constructed from an assortment of experienced musicians: drummer Dan Foord (also a former member of SikTh), six string guitarists Laurent Barnard (who also plays in Gallows) & Alex Venturella (recently confirmed as the new bassist of Slipknot), seven string maestro Daniel P. Carter (formerly of Cry for Silence), and vocalist Simon Wright (from the lesser known, Leeds based blackened death metal crew Liber Necris).

As such it cannot come as a surprise that immediately, as the crushing opening track “Shatter” descends like Thor’s hammer, Krokodil consolidate themselves as a unique and highly intriguing prospect boasting the sort of elusive sound you’ll be hard pressed to pigeon hole. True, the polyrhythmic force of Foord’s percussion, and the sinuous bass lines of Leach utilise the same jaw dropping technique that made SikTh such an influential band, but unlike most supergroups, Krokodil have managed in “Nachash” to create a cohesive piece of music that does not sound like a sum of its parts. Instead, the multiple stylistic backgrounds and influences are applied in an organic way, allowing the songs to breathe their own essence rather than aping the music of others. It cannot be denied that in glimpses, most of the songs offer tribute in one direction or another, the down tuned main riff and technical drumming at the core of the standout "A Life Lived in Copper, But Painted in Gold", for example, instantly betraying Krokodil's collective admiration of Mastodon at their darkest, and heaviest. Similarly, the undertones of metallic hardcore heard in the regrettably anonymous "Sobek" almost certainly trickled from Barnard's dayjob in Gallows. But while these elements are as plain for anyone to hear as they are inevitable, Krokodil nonetheless manage to pack enough novelty into "Nachash" to earmark it as one of those releases that makes a dent in, and at times pierces the ever expanding fabric of metal.

There's such an enormity of thoughtful dynamics and iridescent detail packed into this thing that it hardly matters tracks like "Sobek" and "Sleep Well, Medusa" pass by without much fanfare. For every sign of weakness, there's a powerful chorus like the one that combines Wright's strained singing and Carter's growling in "Skin of the Earth", an irresistible rock'n'roll groove such as supplied by the stomping "Reptilia Familiar", or a magnificent tri-harmonised melody backed by a noodling bass lick as served by the scintillating pre-chorus of "Porcelain Bones" to obfuscate it. And indeed, as the minutes tick "Nachash" grows and evolves, introducing more diversity with virtually each passing song. "The Collapse" exposes a more contemplative aspect to Krokodil, while the clean sung chorus of the superb "Sun Riders" is of the kind you won't soon forget, thanks in no small part to an elegant cameo by Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil, whose esoteric musing of "This time, you're living in a corner. Relight, the sun is gonna burn out. Each side, we're mutual destroyers. We fly, we ride, we fly, and we ride." is the perfect complement to the song's abstruse atmosphere. Concluding piece "Phyllotaxis", meanwhile, brings the djent, with the marriage between crushing weight, rhythmic experimentation and ethereal post-metal leaving a haunting impression - like a heavier TesseracT track.

As an album, "Nachash" capitalises on the expert usage of diversity without ever losing sight of the red chord; it has that quality that makes it appealing to a wide segment of the metal community, as it is neither so accessible as to scare off those accustomed to the heavier and more brutal corners of the genre, nor so gruelling as to cater only to its grizzliest connoisseurs. One thing is certain: "Nachash" is one of the most bruising metal albums to have surfaced in 2014, and a must have for those with a broad interest in the genre.


Download: Shatter; Skin of the Earth; A Life Lived in Copper, But Painted in Gold; Sun Riders; Phyllotaxis
For the fans of: The End, Mastodon, Neurosis, SikTh
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.11.2014
Spinefarm Records

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