We have a huge review pile to get through and sometimes you pick something because the name or details stand out. I plumped for Kashgar as they’re from Kyrgyzstan and I think that’s one of the ever-decreasing number of countries we’ve not yet covered! So, what does Kyrgyzstani black/death metal sound like?
In brief… varied. That is, not in quality but in breadth of sound. Kashgar have to some extent put together a compilation album with each song sounding wildly different from the others. They’re all heavy. They’re all metal. But beyond that, they could all be from different albums. To skip through each of the tracks briefly:
“Half a Devil” is a slow-building, bass-led atmospheric instrumental that runs for five minutes. It’s dark and suitably evil, it’s nocent tones encouraging neck movement and sparks of blackness to evolve in the brain stem. I tend to listen to review albums while I’m reading, and at the moment I’m ploughing through Defender, a post-apocalyptic road-trip book. “Half a Devil” really suited this – perfect background noise.
Clocking in at almost twelve minutes is “Tyan Shan – Batyr”. More in the classic black metal style with harsh, throaty vocals and some wonderful spoken word sections it comes across as part of a story, perhaps the introductory track or overture to some epic musical or film. Still a comparatively slow number, with the odd fast break, the lead guitars get the odd flurry in here as well.
“Scent of Your Blood”, however… talk about taking it up a gear. The bass drums seems to have been forgotten and replaced by toms, everything’s tuned up a notch and we’re hitting a more extreme metal tempo throughout. If the first two tracks allow your brooding hatred to grow, this is the one that tells you to grab the axe and do something about it.
“Erlik” is the calm after the storm. Slow, doomy and with a pace akin to frozen blood not-oozing along a scarred tabletop, the vocals are guttural, slimy and send chills down the back. It fades out into nothingness to be replaced by “Albarsty”, another fast-paced number and my favourite from the collection. If it reminds me of anything, it’s Skalmold though the resemblance is faint.
The seven-minute closer, “Come Down”, is pure atmosphere for the first two minutes. It takes four minutes before the incredibly slow beat, and growled vocals, ramp up in tempo and fervour. This track takes you from slow, grinding terror to the heights of panic and back again.
Kashgar is a re-release and available now. If you fancy something a bit different that definitely still fits into your black metal end of the spectrum, it comes highly recommended. If Kyrgyzstan has more bands like this, then keep your eyes open for more forthcoming reviews.