Album Review – Katabasis

by Anna Denejkina

KATABASIS – Self Titled

Written for Voltage Media

Originally published on May 10, 2011

As the vocals seep through in the first few seconds of the opening track, an undeniably Opeth-esque tonality comes forth. The music of Katabasis is infections from its foundation, with the continual guitars leading into an abrupt void that quickly changes into a brilliant dynamic with fantastic and forward pushing repetition.

This is ‘Avernus’ – the opening track off the band’s self-titled, debut album – the thirteen-minute epic that finds itself to hold a number of climaxes, the first of which gives the earliest hint of fervent vocals, coupled with an overwhelmingly beautiful lead melody.

The play between soft and aggressive dynamics is done with great skill, especially as the initial clean vocals pierce through the music.

This track is a fantastic beginning to a great album. It sates the appetites of the progressive and the doom obsessed, letting one linger in their own space and time, whilst the piece holds strong with weeping harmony and resonant vocal melodies reminiscent to that of the aforementioned Swedes.

As ‘Avernus’ trickles to a close with the pouring rain, the strength and beauty comes following in the form of ‘Path of Ruin’. The up-beat tempo of the piece is at first juxtaposed with smooth guitar lines, before lunging into crushing guitars and entirely fantastic vocal lines. ‘Path of Ruin’ brings with it the first instance of a guitar solo, but un-like the sometimes unfortunate guitar solo-wankery [sic], this is one that is not self-indulgent, nor is it inappropriately extensive.

This track definitely underlines my prior thoughts – that this is an album that has to be listened to at full volume – to truly experience the overwhelming nature of all of its elements, as this is a record that sends a shiver down one’s spine, and coils you in emotion.

Hierophant’ comes as the most unique piece on the album; this is a place where Katabasistruly comes into its own, finding its unique stride. The sections of lead guitar tend to push the listener into that all elusive trance of closing ones eyes and bathing in the music. The last turn in direction is taken in the final few minutes, as the harshness returns to really cement ‘Hierophant’ as a personal highlight of the album.

The closure of the release, ‘Aphelion’, is a sedative ending to an emotive record. It’s tempting to state that it holds a touch of ambience, but this does not seem to truly encapsulate the piece. The half-way point brings on an interesting feeling of an alluring climax, that intricate feeling of knowing that something is about to happen, and very slowly, but surely, the progression and lead-up ensues, before the final eruption of the record quenches the auditory appetite.

This is amazing work, and not singularly because this is a debut album. There is something incredibly enthralling about the polyphony of textures and their fragility – the quality, musicianship and the force heard on this record, is all a testament to the talent of the quartet, albeit their influences may be strongly heard throughout the self-titled release.

Now, to the question that begs – can they pull this off live?