With a name inspired by Ace Ventura, Swedish death metallurgists Shikaka do not strike me as a band that creates what they call a horror take on the death metal genre. But Ace Ventura and death metal do have a connection (hint: Cannibal Corpse), so there we have our explanation for the name. The band from the city of Östersund recently released their debut EP titled Ocean of Blood, and judging by the cover there are gallons of this fluid there.
Both guitar players in the band, Johan Magnusson and Babak Ahoorazaad, use 8-string guitars tuned down to double drop B (what’s standard Drop B but an octave lower). And that’s pretty low. On this 4-track EP there is a lot of chugging accompanied with occasional breakdowns, fitting guitar solos and fairly good growls of Johan Magnusson.
The EP kicks off with “Nightmare,” a short instrumental that is a fitting soundtrack for a survival horror video game. From there all hell breaks loose and we are trapped between cracking sound walls of blasphemy and chaos on “The Alpha.” This number along with the closing and very inspiring piece “Shit Will Bleed” single out as the best representatives of Ocean of Blood.
In the meantime “The Always Come Black” comes forward with somewhat trippy take on guitar solos reminiscent of their fellow Swedes Hypocrisy, but riffs could be structured better.
Most of the guitar riffs on this album are quite melodic in nature. They also don’t really differentiate themselves from one another and are played in very similar ways. We can also hear a possible influence of the classic Gothenburg bands, most notably At The Gates.
Overall, Ocean of Blood is a good introductory release for the band that is yet to show their full potential on their next release. There is still space for improvement, but once they realise their weak spots and connect the dots Shikaka may be a step closer to the leading acts of the European death metal underground.