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Kayo Dot - Hubardo CD (album) cover


Kayo Dot



3.98 | 126 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars In Hubardo, Toby Driver returns to the extreme avant-prog metal roots that he embraced with his prior band Maudlin of the Well. The reason that Driver revisited the heavy sounds of the early days of Kayo Dot and his prior band was because he felt that a lot of the avant metal that was being produced was not deserving of the accolades that it was receiving, that it wasn't quite challenging or imaginative enough. So, he rips out all of the stops for this one and creates a monster of an album.

There are two discs to this album, and pretty much all of the first disc is dark, chaotic, heavy, extreme and loud. But, it is also obvious that the tracks are not your typical, run-of-the-mill extreme metal. It is definitely not accessible music at all, but highly imaginative and well-produced metal at it's finest. Right away, starting with "The Black Stone", the Kayo Dot listener will know that she/he is in for craziness. This 10 minute track is heavy and harsh, yet complex and brilliant. Layers of bass and guitar pile upon growling and extreme brass along with harsh vocals by Jason Byron, formerly from Maudlin of the Well. "Crown-in-the-Muck" is a bit lighter in feel, but still as dark as the previous, but then layers of brass come in building a foundation for layers of guitar to join in later. Vocals come in half way through with a combination of growling and yelling, sometimes at the same time, sometimes separately. "Thief" is a very interesting delve into an almost speed metal/avant punk sound, then, true to Kayo Dot, it turns into what could be a free meter piece. Vocals are more tonal here, but there is a use of some odd modes. "Vision Adjustment to Another Wavelength" begins abruptly with shouting and is joined by a choir of harsh vocalist styles that are layered on top of brass, drums, bass which come together in a cacophony of noise. Halfway in, a flute takes the song in a complelty different direction turning to a free form jazzcore along with growling vocals. "Zlida Caosgi" as keys and guitars play around almost playfully, suddenly it is destroyed by layers of loud guitar, and then things calm again turning this into a track that has a returning riff that almost sounds like a standard metal tune except it continues to rely on the synths to create some nice textures. The outlying track on this first disc is the last one, "The First Matter (Saturn in the Guise of Sadness)". This one is strikingly different from everything else we have heard on this album up to this point. The music is quite atmospheric sounding very much like something that could have fit comfortably on Ulver's "Blood Inside" album. The vocals are quite beautiful here, but the melody is definitely non-standard.

On the 2nd disc, the "mellower" mood continues with "The Second Operation (Lunar Water)". A standard meter that consists of simply a hypnotic keyboard pattern with a violin playing the melodic part starts it all off. At 3 minutes, things get quite ambient, but with lots of dissonance. Several singers provide an avant-garde style chorale. This one also sounds a lot like Ulver especially when the vocal parts become surprisingly beautiful, yet remain very non- standard. The 2nd disc ends up being the softer side of the album, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of places where everything gets extreme, however, the harsh vocals appear a lot less on this half. However, "Floodgate" will prove that anything can and does happen as this track literally re-opens the floodgates of heaviness, harsh vocals and extreme prog. This track is followed by "And He Built Him a Boat" which once again steps back for a calmer sounding track, not much like anything the band has done before since it is the closest thing to a standard style than anything else on the album, but a great track nonetheless. The calm side continues at first on "Passing the River" which starts out as a study in restraint and dark, complex beauty. The last half, however, turns into a churning, wailing guitar solo which occassionally gets interrupted by outbursts from the rest of the ensemble turning it into metal shoegaze and jazzcore combined. The album ends with complex and epic "The Wait of the World" which pretty much brings everything together in one 14+ minute track.

Many have said this is the heaviest of all of Kayo Dot's albums, and that is the truth. There are plenty of impenetrable sections on this album, especially on the first disc. However, there is a lot of style that Kayo Dot listeners will be used to on the album also as most of the 2nd disc is a bit less chaotic, but still quite complex. Some have said that this is a good album to begin with if you want to get into Kayo Dot's discography, but, even though it is a masterpiece of avant- prog metal, it would not be the one that I would recommend, unless you do like extreme music, even then I would approach it with caution and stick with "Choirs of the Eye" as a beginning point for exploring the band. However, I still consider this one of the band's best albums even with it's harsh tracks. You have to listen closely and concentrate on the music, otherwise it may just sound like noise, but it is not an album to just listen to casually. For that reason, not everyone will be able to handle it's abrupt changes from harsh metal to ambiance. But for those that are willing to explore and are adventurous, this is an essential album.

TCat | 5/5 |


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