A War of Soul and Desires may be Krysthla’s debut album but it is apparent from the stunning art work to the confidence in how this debut is presented and delivered that the members are old hands at this. So it’s no surprise to see that this is actually Extreme Metal merchants Gutworm with the addition of Adi Mayes (formerly of Deadeye) on vocal duties. That said, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just Gutworm rebranded because although there are a lot of similarities between the two bands; the core of the band remains the same, the relentless drums and the hard edge of the guitars are still there; with the addition of Adi Mayes, Krysthla become so much more than that and have progressed the sound of the original band. For a start they are not as extreme as Gutworm but don’t take this to mean they are not as fast or powerful because ‘A War of Soul and Desire’ will take your breath away with its intensity and lighting fast pace and delivery. The vocals, however, have more variety to them in sense of delivery and pace but perhaps more importantly Adi has a message within his lyrical content (Krysthla describe themselves as marrying the spiritual side of being with modern events and times) and the music has a lot more subtlety and nuances to it.
What do you mean subtle? Is this still death metal? Of course it is.
Does it mean I can still go mental at their gigs? Of course you can.
What I mean is that there is a lot more going on in these tracks than the full on extremism of Gutworm and a lot more variety in the pace of the songs allowing the power of the intense sections to breathe more and as a result Krysthla have managed to take the exhilaration of the music, the pace and intensity but have added a more atmospheric and tension building sound.
Opening track ‘Minority of One’ with its ‘You are a Minority of One’ chorus introduces what will become the signature double speed marching snare and eerie guitar riffs. In this very dark picture of the future (or is this the present) Krysthla paint a picture of a time of confusion and fear and with such slogans as ‘Ignorance is Strength’, ‘See yourself as dead’ and ‘War is peace, freedom is slavery’ they could never have predicted that it would seem this relevant but the fact is these lyrics would have relevance at many times throughout history. With the fast pace of the song, the relentless messages, and the constant dark riff in the background, this is a big statement to the opening of the album. It has everything you want. It is intense, fast and claustrophobic , but you want to come through the other side and see what is next.
And what is next is ‘Luminosity’; a song that has great pace that draws you in. It was the first song I heard off the album and it made an instant impression. It again starts with the signature drumming; strong, very fast and relentless. Lyrically Krysthla present another strong message about attempting to ‘Silence the masses’, alienate them so that they cannot rise up against those in control. In this Krysthla’s call to arms they hope to raise the subdued subconscious of the young so that they can speak out and make up their minds for themselves. Musically the riff throughout reminds you of the darkest reflective moments of Iron Maiden and the two styles merge well together. The monosyllable call to arms towards the end of the song, is almost At the Drive In in its delivery.
These themes are continued elsewhere on the album. ‘H+’ starts with a another dark riff and a primal scream before hitting into the verses. I particularly like the change of pace through the middle of this song. This is one of the strengths of the album, Krysthla switch beautifully between full on hardcore metal before slowing the pace down, with an almost funk rhythm and by doing this they can transform the feel of the album and song well. The songs work well together ‘By Way of Deception’, has a musical beginning that continues that dark riff basis before again exploding into the lyrics.
‘Praise Thee in Flesh’ towards the end of the album seems more hopeful and talks of being reborn and resurrected but also of all the people in the world bringing about the setting sun with their actions.
What strikes me about Krysthla and this album that in its ideals, politics and vocal delivery it has a lot in common with the punk hardcore scene. They have been described as brutal but I appreciated so much more to this album than just that. The subtleties, the message, the pace changes. I think this is extreme metal transformed into something that you are going to want to turn up loud but can also appreciate the art and thoughts that have gone into these well crafted songs. If you take the time to listen there is a lot to reflect upon with regards to current events. If you don’t care about that, it is still going bombast you into just enjoying this whirlwind of an album.
A War of Soul and Desires is out already through Plastic Head (PHD)