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Alkuharmonian Kantaja - Shadowy Peripherals review




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Reviewer:
8.5

19 users:
6.58
Band: Alkuharmonian Kantaja
Album: Shadowy Peripherals
Release date: October 2021


01. Shadowy Peripherals
02. Oceans Of Senses
03. Harbinger (Of The Fallen Hearts)
04. Hounds Of Man
05. The Hands Of The Nebulah
06. I Am Of The Beholder
07. Past The Final Winter


In the Kabbalah, Netzach is the branch of cognition that is unbridled creativity, unashamed charisma, and perpetual perseverance. The Finnish equivalent is sisu, and this debut exudes it. Gonna be too weird to live? Gotta be too rare to die.

Courtesy of Korpituli Productions and I, Voidhanger Records, I explored the environs of the former's eponymous solo act and stumbled down a rabbit digging forests in holes. I'm used to acquired tastes; I've spent most of my life trying to acquire my own. Single malt whiskey, mathematical physics, and extravagant music are just amalgamations of the childlike sense of wonder I never had. I haven't had whiskey for a while, but Shadowy Peripherals tickles all the latter bones. From the outset, the moniker Alkuharmonian Kantaja (Carrier Of The Primal Harmony) combined with the album title intrigued me with its allusions between quantum philosophy and metacognitive abscission. By the second play through it clicked with me, and several spins later I'm looking forward to many more. It will not be for everybody, perhaps not even for every fan of avant-garde extreme metal, and has lots of space-time for improvement in both sound and songwriting, but it is a debut filled with imagination and promise.

The croaking vocals opening up the album had me worried, but they turned out to be quite of a red herring. The album displays icier shrieks, raspier growls, Snowy Shaw operatics (complete with a trilled 'R'), off beat whispers, backing choirs, falsetto flourishes, and pretty much the kitchen sink, baby, and bathwater. I can't help but think some guttural growls wouldn't be out of place here and there, and while the approach will likely put many people off, they are performed with compelling skill and conviction. The percussion is precise, professional, and progressive, keeping all but a few extraneous passages chained to gravity with ride-ridden blast beats, danceable doom, and jazzy waltz times. Keyboards come into focus at times, breaking off with orchestral bursts or backing up with searing synth leads or eerie pads like 90s nostalgia patches set to 'conspicuous' mode.

A sadly too inaudible bass makes the guitar border on too thin instead of gleefully raw at times, but among melodic leads and rhythms, Shadowy Peripherals contains some very memorable riffs reminiscent of Mardraum-era Enslaved. The opening minutes still do not convince me, but the opener's wacky black metal soon tapers out into a neat doomy procession. The influence of aforementioned Norwegian prog metal masters is evident overall, the rhythms and tremolos in "Oceans Of Senses" being a prime example. Lest I forget (just kidding, I couldn't), the descending harmonies in the latter half of "Harbinger (Of The Fallen Hearts)" make for one of the simply best riffs I've heard in years. The way it connects to the ascending martial motifs leading up to it only serves to put the entire song in excellence territory, and I'm replaying it once again as I'm writing this. In other words: fuckin' A. Don't miss out on this track. Seriously, listen to it below.

The music borders on extravaganza, but save for a couple of excessive moments like the symphonic chorus in "Hounds Of Man" and the aimlessly zany "I Am The Beholder", I find it rarely overblown, only presented through a thin mix not conveying the vast concepts. Assuming we're not talking about levitating, eight-eyed aberrations here (if so, get a psychiatrist; you're a bipedal two-eyed aberration), we are all the beholder(s?), and so is every particle, every instant of interaction. The conditions for self-awareness being badly defined, who knows where the threshold for self-referential perception feedback loops sits and whether it occurs in even larger circuitry, or the largest circuitry itself. Shadowy Peripherals indeed. For all its variety, the album retains its identity all the way to the heat death "Past The Final Winter" closing out the album with well-placed, doomy entropy.

We've had retro-just-about-everything by now, but while a descriptor like retro-avant-garde might sound as paradoxical as the conundrum of consciousness itself, the heavily 90s experimental out-there vibe with the sense of something quite unlike anything I know to be out there made it the first, and still best, style tag I could muster. Judging from the lyrical themes (to the band: c'mon, give me the lyrics already, or I'll have to spend hours extracting them myself) dealing with the absurdity of existence, emotions, and bewilderment of modern science, and the untethered artiness in the keys and vocals anchored by gravelly, progressive riffs and drum work, it makes even more sense to me. Needless to say, this is the archetype of a debut so sprawling it needs to be crystallized (or produced and presented convincingly enough) for me to allow it to keep messing with my brains, but I enjoy a good mindfuck like little else, and Alkuharmonian Kantaja doubtlessly have all the ingredients for an excellent one shortly down the line.

Much like an unbalanced branch on the Tree Of Life, Shadowy Peripherals is a beta version, sometimes frustratingly stubborn, self-indulgent, and unfittingly produced, but ultimately irresistibly charming. Nothing implied.



Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 10
Production: 7





Written on 20.10.2021 by Here's Tom with the weather...


Comments

Comments: 13   Visited by: 141 users
20.10.2021 - 08:08
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Gonna give this a spin. Hopefully it takes me closer to Ein Sof.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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20.10.2021 - 08:16
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by RaduP on 20.10.2021 at 08:08

Gonna give this a spin. Hopefully it takes me closer to Ein Sof.

I'd hate to be that guy, tbh. Everything at once all the time forever. But you do you.
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20.10.2021 - 11:00
nikarg
Mod
It's official: I like reading your reviews more than listening to the albums you review
I am joking; this is quite an avantgarde listen, mainly (but not exclusively) due to the vocals and I suppose people will either like it or hate it because of those. I think it is an interesting album for the ones who like black metal that is a little (or a lot, at times) messed up.
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20.10.2021 - 12:04
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by nikarg on 20.10.2021 at 11:00

It's official: I like reading your reviews more than listening to the albums you review
I am joking; this is quite an avantgarde listen, mainly (but not exclusively) due to the vocals and I suppose people will either like it or hate it because of those. I think it is an interesting album for the ones who like black metal that is a little (or a lot, at times) messed up.

Haha, thanks, I think. It will definitely be a divisive album and I didn't like it much at first, but it grew on me quickly. I don't think it's so awfully avant-garde really, riffs are very Enslaved and vocals not much wacky than for example Arcturus or something. I've seen reviews around making a point of it being totally weird but I don't really get why. I think most of it sounds very retro, they even promote it as such on Bandcamp.
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20.10.2021 - 12:57
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Giving this a listen. Those vocals are goofy af.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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20.10.2021 - 16:36
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by RaduP on 20.10.2021 at 12:57

Giving this a listen. Those vocals are goofy af.

Eh, I have no problem with them, I get the sense it's done with self-distance, and he's good at it, so I enjoy the theatrics and variation. How about the non-vocals then? Instruments, I guess the word is.
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20.10.2021 - 17:02
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 20.10.2021 at 11:00

It's official: I like reading your reviews more than listening to the albums you review
I am joking; this is quite an avantgarde listen, mainly (but not exclusively) due to the vocals and I suppose people will either like it or hate it because of those. I think it is an interesting album for the ones who like black metal that is a little (or a lot, at times) messed up.

I think we should gather ms crew in lapplands cabbine and taste that whisky
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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20.10.2021 - 20:48
nikarg
Mod
Written by Bad English on 20.10.2021 at 17:02

I think we should gather ms crew in lapplands cabbine and taste that whisky

I'd be totally up for that.
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21.10.2021 - 03:57
Uxküll

The poor review of this on Angry Metal Guy made me pass on this one, but after reading your review I will have to give it a spin.
----
"Nullum unquam exstitit magnum igenium sine aliqua dementia [there was never great genius without some madness]."

Best of Metal A-Z: http://metalstorm.net/users/lists.php?user_id=158339
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21.10.2021 - 14:32
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Uxküll on 21.10.2021 at 03:57

The poor review of this on Angry Metal Guy made me pass on this one, but after reading your review I will have to give it a spin.

I read that one too and think this album deserves more credit. I'm also very interested in seeing what they come up with in the future.
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21.10.2021 - 21:05
DeliciousDishes
always right
"Shadowy Peripherals" what is this about how spooky Alexa is surveilling you?????
Those raspy early vocals really didn't bode well, but it turned out to be quite good when it hit the doom section. I think the same overall could be said for the album in its entirety. The clean vocals remind me a lot of Ved Buens Ende, which is always great. I'm not sure I'm gonna listen to this a lot, but I appreciate it
----
You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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21.10.2021 - 22:26
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by DeliciousDishes on 21.10.2021 at 21:05

"Shadowy Peripherals" what is this about how spooky Alexa is surveilling you?????
Those raspy early vocals really didn't bode well, but it turned out to be quite good when it hit the doom section. I think the same overall could be said for the album in its entirety. The clean vocals remind me a lot of Ved Buens Ende, which is always great. I'm not sure I'm gonna listen to this a lot, but I appreciate it

Neat, glad somebody else likes it. I rated it 8.0 first, but judging from the amount of replays, I had to raise it. Yeah, the same overall could be said indeed; bunches of parts don't work that well, but I imagine most would have if the production matched the ambition, that's the main fault. I have ~3.5% more respect for your tastes now.
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25.10.2021 - 10:18
TheBigRossowski
Dudeist Priest
Dig it, man. I was worried with the comments on the vocals but it's not a deal breaker for me. It's definitely an interesting album.
----
That rug really tied the room together, did it not?
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