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Untu - Rats of Oran CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.00 | 1 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars UNTU is the unique project of Sean Hayward who is a composer, performer, researcher, lecturer and musicologist. He just also happens to be a metal fan. Based in both Surakarta in Central Java, Indonesia as well as Los Angeles, USA, Hayward has created one of the strangest metal projects ever that tackles the fusion of traditional Indonesian Gamelan ensemble music with death and doom metal styles. RATS OF ORAN is the project's debut and although this is a fusion of Indonesian music, the title and album cover art seems to be of Oran, Algeria! The album is based on "La Peste" by Albert Camus.

Hayward himself provides the guitar and vocals. The metal instruments consist of Chuck Gloria on bass and Sean Woodman on drums but the rest of the ensemble consists of Indonesian Gamelan instruments that includes Alberto Cruz (bonang panerus), Sara Dowling (saron barung), April Gerloff (synthesizer), Kevin Good (saron barung), Jim Jeffrey (saron demung), Manak Khamvongsa (saron demung), Kayle Khanmohamed (kendang), Julian Lozos (saron peking), Komang Negara (bonang barung), Keane Nwede (gong), Dan Wingo (saron barung), Tyler Vander Maas (kenong) and Shih-Lien Eugene Yen (saron barung) with Jessika Kenney provided extra vocals in traditional Indonesian styles.

This album only consists of three long tracks and revolves around the Indonesian Gamelan ensemble music with metal elements being adapted to fit in. While Gamelan music can have the intense fury of metal in its most passionate performances, this ensemble is on a slower mode and the music is rather surreal actually. I'd call this more psychedelic Gamelan than traditional but yet the music is performed in the traditional manner. The traditional elements begin the three tracks and then the metal bombast breaks in randomly with heavy guitar riffs, bleating bass bombast and energetic drum fury. When the metal is bantering it's more difficult to hear the many traditional instruments but a couple key instruments can be heard providing the rhythmic drive.

Given the slower tempos of the Gamelan music, the metal parts which adapt are also mostly in a slower mid-tempo speed which means it falls somewhere between energetic death metal and comatose doom metal. Occasionally the metal rages on and there are guitar solos but generally this album is pretty chill. This is weird to say the least! While it's always hard to gage if such experimental projects are successful as there are no comparisons, i do have to say that i enjoy this! As a fan of both Indonesian Gamelan music and death metal, it is a combination that seems unlikely but somehow works however it does seem that this being the first project that there is a lot of room to improve the interactions of the different instrument styles. I do hope this band continues because i can totally see how this could be fantastic but for now it seems like it needs a little more work to be considered OMG brilliant.

3.5 but rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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