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Kayo Dot - Hubardo CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.99 | 132 ratings

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5 stars 4.9 Stars. The concept album FROM HELL

Hubardo has been one of those albums I have been planning to review for a long time. When I heard it last year I was extremely excited and terrified of this album in equal amounts. Kayo Dot are a band that change their style radically with every album they release. The only thing they all have in common is their ability to break new ground and just be very experimental in general, hence the Avant Garde genre tag the band has.

While Hubardo is also Avant Garde the main focus in this album is Extreme Prog Metal with a lot of leaning towards Black Metal. So anyone who allergic to grows/screams and brutal sonic attacks should avoid this album like the plague. The metal found here is almost as extreme as you can get, just for reference nothing in the entire career of Opeth comes anywhere close to the intensity levels found on this album. And please don't mistake this for a Meshuggah album either. This is not bone crushing, but its complete madness and like you are being dragged down to hell by the devil himself. It's not all extreme metal though, there are numerous of other genres that have been mixed in to add to the weirdness levels and a fair few songs have no metal in them.

Hubardo is a detailed concept album telling the story of the Eye of Leviathan which falls to the earth as a meteorite. A lonely poet takes the stone and becomes possessed by the stones demonic powers. It tricks him into taking the stone with him to a strange garden (which might be hell but its not clear) and drowning him once his task is done. There is no joy to be found on this album, only fury, madness or depression. There are some beautiful and delicate sections though which are very well done.

"The black stone" starts the album with death grows and a incredibly slow tempo that lasts 5 minutes. This is the only part of the album that I am not keen on as nothing much happens except for the continuous slow growling. It is important for the story though as it talks of the stone in space falling back to earth. The song gets very intense and strong at the end and is worth the 5 min of waiting.

"Crown-in-the-muck" talks of people finding the stone and being horrified by its evilness. Only the lonely poet is drawn to it. It begins with a moody instrumental which has no connections to metal, but instead has a more jazz fusion feel to it. It does however descend into black metal which gradually increases in intensity. The vocals are screamed with as much wrath and disgust as Toby can manage which is to represent the people's loathing of the stone. At the end the intensity has built to terrifying levels, but it is still tame compared to later songs.

"Thief" is the first song to introduce a style of song writing that will appear on many later tracks. Depending on your taste it will either sound brilliant or awful. This sound is a very chaotic and free-flowing style of Black metal which is difficult to describe. Most of the song is an instrumental with different sections stumbling one after another. It's only after repeated listens that you can tell there is a deeper level of songwriting going on and that it's not as chaotic as you would first think. Story-wise the poet has taken the stone and is running through the night to go back home.

The start of "Vision adjusted to another wavelength" is incredibly maddening and overwhelming. The poet is being fully enchanted by the stones power and the song perfectly expresses his insanity. I can't put into words how potent this is and it's not even the most intense song on the album! The second half (where the poet dreams of the stone as a seed and it sprouting) is much calmer and hypnotic, using many Eastern themes.

"Zilda Caosgi (To Water the Earth)" is my favourite song on Hubardo, it's another extreme metal song but it focuses less on madness and more on complexity and rapid time signature changes. The pace is extremely fast and does so many tricks while never de-railing itself. This is what I want Prog metal to be about, a massive rush that satisfies the heart and head. The story reflects the excitement as the poet uses a lightning rod and thunderbolt to blow up the stone and reveal the seed/eye that he dreamed about.

The following 2 songs are much quieter and are based on the poet's dreams. "The First Matter (Saturn in the Guise of Sadness)" has a regular and steady rhythm for the first 5 minutes. It's a catchy song and full of melancholy. While it is reflective its far from boring and there is a cool spacey sound created with the electric guitar to keep things interesting. The second half is much weirder, it's a oppressive tribal rhythm that is a challenging listen. They don't have to be metal to be disturbing.

"The Second Operation (Lunar Water)" is a very beautiful but sad song. The first 3 minutes is a delicate instrumental which has a lovely violin solo. The remaining 10 minutes are very minimalist and quite original. The disjointed song starts and stops for several seconds before beginning again. Whenever Toby sings other voices join him and echo his words. It's very captivating but it takes a while to appreciate. But once you do it's another big highlight of the album. The ending is particularly beautiful.

"Floodgate" is the last extreme metal song on the album, but it's by far the most intense and insane. For 7 minutes you are swamped with screams, grows, demented rhythms and other weird stuff that's indescribable and evil. The poet wakes up and goes to plant the eye in the forest.

"And he built him a boat" is the most accessible song on Hubardo and has no metal, but is more of a fusion between post-rock and the 10 minutes on "the second operation". The song does not change much over the 7 and half minutes but keeps at a regular pace with some post-rock instrumentals in-between. The song tells of how a river has sprouted from the eye and a boat is created from a tree for the poet to go down the river. Weird yes but it works!

"Passing the river" starts quietly with some vulnerable and delicate singing, before going into anguished cries of despair. I love how Toby has such a wide range of vocal abilities and can display so many intense emotions. Things then descend into full blown SunnO))) drone metal for several minutes. This is followed by a very strong and quite heavy instrumental. It finishes with delicate vocals again.

On "The wait of the world" the poet's river journey has reached its end and he finds the gates to the garden. But the gates do not open for him causing him to drown and haunt the gates as a ghost forever. The song itself is quite different to the rest of Hubardo. It's still very intense and has some incredibly crazy and bizarre instrumentals, but it's all in the structure of jazz-fusion and not metal. Think the second half of King Crimson's Lizard and make it heavier and weirder. It's a odd way to finish the album as many people have commented but I think it works. Mainly because it reflects the spirit if the album and the very dark lyrics right at the end.

While I am not keen on the first 5 minutes of the album, the remaining 95 is mind-blowing so I cannot give this anything less than 5 stars. This is a love or hate album and its extremity means many will go for the latter. However it is also one of the most progressive, inspired and well thought out albums I have ever heard. It's without question a masterpiece.

LakeGlade12 | 5/5 |


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