Thursday, May 12, 2016

CD Review: ANGAKOK Self-titled

Angakok is a Belgian Doom/Drone metal project based in Liege. "Angakok" is their 2015 namesake release- inspiring and unsettling in its diversity. Commencing with "Perpaluktok Aitut" resonant samples of singing layered with a crackling background set the tone. A sample of a male voice shifts the tone’ multilayered samples create a unsettling yet apprehensive tone. Mid track droning and crackling fades out the voices effectively to combine the background in a musically intelligent and cohesive shift. The doom aspect spliced with rapidly paced samples serve to create a more frantic, chaotic tone. The continual background broken by a gradual shift in pitch and cadence prevents a monotonous tone. The conclusion displays a grinding, relentless feel providing an interesting opening track both abstract and well layered.
"Sacrifice" commences with a guttural, droning background spliced briefly by the drum work. A stark contrast to "Perpaluktok Aitut"- leading the listener to become immediately interested. Heavy use of droning and distortion are consistent throughout the first quarter. An almost depressive element further aided by a discordant riff and consistent musical balance displaying the drum lines prepare for the sudden onslaught of the vocals. An almost vibrational feel to the background music provides an intelligent cohesive contrast. A depressive interval- allows Angakok to display their doom influences, providing a welcome contrast before switching pitch and tone into the next unrelenting section. Timely droning intervals ensure "Sacrifice" remains diverse while remaining consistent to their sound. A slamming percussion section announces the final chaotic and experimental quarter- rife with rapid paced drum lines and harsh screaming vocals. Rapid pitch changes provide an intriguing and experimental track.
"Collapsing" begins with a resonating, well-orchestrated guitar line, providing a coherent contrast to the slow drum beat. Rapidly shifting pitch and cadence ensure the listener is immediately interested. Constant and precise pitch changes combined with an unchanging, consistent drum beat entice. A pitch shift is the cue for the guttural vocals to commence, enhanced by a musically sound background. A lower pitched, close to meditative drone offsets the vocals masterfully, while a brief screaming vocal solo leads into a brief respite. Consistently on point drum lines are of high emphasis. A consistent approach to the musical background ensures the vocal section is the focus of attention mid track. A sample spliced with the instrumental section creates an unsettling tone aided by chaotic yet intelligent drum lines broken by a doom ridden riff ensure the listener is awaiting the next section. Pitch shifts with selectively timed riffs flow seamlessly into an interval with heavy drum lines. A brutal vocal section enhanced by a particularly drone influenced background impresses. Chaotic and distorted riffs with a droning and atmospheric tone conclude this creative, cohesive track.
"Aksarpok" commences with the characteristic understated drone established as part of Angakok's style. Samples spliced with the heavy, distorted drone provide a menacing feel. Pace shifts and the introduction of another sample artfully layered produce a more melancholy feel mid track. A percussion section adds another element. The continuous, consistent approach in "Aksarpok" is a quality to be noted and appreciated. A musical interval free of samples provides a timely interval and announces the vocal section. Understated screaming vocals are cohesively placed at the same level as the background while continuous and flawless pitch shifts serve to provide a tone of chaotic insanity before shifting back. The vocals in the third section produce a raw, mournful experience aided by the background. Pitch changes provide an unsettling tone while remaining diverse and ear catching. Samples and grinding distorted guitars add to the unsettling conclusion.
"Samsara" commences with a frantic drum solo that instantly captures attention. Grinding and groove filled guitar work commences the next section of the introduction while still remaining musically sound to Angakok. Continuous energetic, technical drum lines are musically consistent. A pitch and cadence shift introduces the vocals. A more heavy, doom approach allows the vocals to be the focus of this section while seamlessly shifting into a more distorted drone pitch and slower musical pace broken by well timed, precise cymbals. A drone/doom feel to the musical interlude provides an intelligent contrast to the arrival of the next aural onslaught. A harsher, guttural approach applied mid track by heavier doom displays more diversity. A reflective feel to the interlude provides a cohesive atmosphere. Pensive guitar notes provide a depressive approach to this interval while emphasizing a dramatic feel. Samples add an unexpected layered quality. Grinding, brutal droning offers a dramatic contrast aided by masterfully placed drum solos offer another niche in this track. A brief single note preludes the next vocal section. Harsh screams amid a brutal tone bring about the conclusion.
"Avioyok" commences next with meditative, droning samples combined with samples of running water. Continual pitch shifts and a distinct vibrato provide an intense, cohesive contrast. A brief yet well-constructed, musically captivating track with shamanic overtures. "Dead Birds" begins with a noise groove and chaotic feel while still remaining creative and cohesive. Strong and consistent drum lines enhanced by drone guitar work consistently and continually create a musically cohesive and intelligent sound. Brief intervals broken by screaming guitars ensure a melodic, chaotic experience. The addition of vocals add an extra layer of calculated cacophony. A sudden and abrupt end provides a fitting conclusion.
"Trust my Scorn" commences with a sampled male voice speaking rapidly before the heavy section commences. The vocals add a depressive, mournful tone. Continual shifts in pitch and cadence display the diversity of the vocals and music. A rolling cadence and chaotic feel shifts into a brief doom interval before the next assault. A brief instrumental interlude provides an intelligently timed break allowing the sheer cacophony to envelope the listener before another noise break ends it.
"Empty Cup" commences with a remarkably threatening overture aided by distorted guitar and selected samples. Doom intervals are broken with musically consistent bursts of aggressive drum work. A mid track interval provides a doom-groove approach preparing the listener for the next brutal assault. Mournful screams characterize this section; enhanced by a distinctly depressive background. A brief melancholy riff aids to the interval only to switch back into the harsh vocal section flawlessly. A highly mournful vocal section announces the conclusion seamlessly shifting into a distorted interval. "Sivudlit Nertopok" provides an elegant and contrast track due to the use of layered singing bowl samples and a resonant feel to this concluding track. The vibrato is enhanced by well layered samples of chanting- once again providing a meditative mood. Skillfully layered samples provide a calm conclusion to this release.
Angakok's namesake release is well-constructed and diverse in influence and approach. It's obvious immediately to the listener that a large amount of time and effort has been placed into the concept. The diversity throughout "Angakok" is to be admired and displays a clear sense of dedication throughout the entire release. Angakok is a creative force to be reckoned with and I genuinely look forward to hearing more of their material. -Sarah McKellar

Track list:
1. Perpaluktok Aitut
2. Sacrifice
3. Collapsing
4. Aksarpok
5. Samsara
6. Avioyok
7. Dead Birds
8. Trust My Scorn
9. Empty Cup
10. Sivudlit Nertorpok

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