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Kayo Dot - Moss Grew On The Swords And Plowshares Alike review




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Reviewer:
8.0

31 users:
7.42
Band: Kayo Dot
Album: Moss Grew On The Swords And Plowshares Alike
Release date: October 2021


01. The Knight Errant
02. Brethren Of The Cross
03. Void In Virgo (The Nature Of Sacrifice)
04. Spectrum Of One Colour
05. Get Out Of The Tower
06. The Necklace
07. Epipsychidion


Is it extreme experi-metal? Blackened prog-doom? Gothic post-death? Yes, and/or no, to each one. Kayo Dot crank up both amps and accessibility, and call it “avant-garde doom”, while their music stands up with pants down, mooning categories conventional and convoluted alike.

Moss Grew On The Swords And Plowshares Alike starts out with a solid, mid-paced synth riff in “?/?!”-time, and then switches it around to the point I’m getting desperate enough for my mind’s eye to picture “11” in the denominator. As far as I knew, non-dyadic bar lengths would make no sense at all, but it turns out to be called “irrational meters”. Proves me half-right, I guess, but mostly suggests I’d better change topic fast as a fractional blast beat (whatever that is). Since starting to toss word salads around here earlier this year, I’ve been conditioned by RaduP filling my face with all manner of loopy stuff steeped in the peculiar subset of metal tagged as “avant-garde”. The sort that farts in the general direction of deorbited “progressive” music keelhauled under the outside of the box and probes the gassy trajectories of ideas recycled through its walls for load-bearing timber logs to sic the beavers on.

In other words, progressive says “What box?”, rejects paradigms, seeking to construct in a vacuum, while avant-garde says “That box!”, critiques paradigms, seeking to deconstruct into vacuum. Richard Wagner, free jazz, post-punk, and krautrock are or have been examples of avant-garde music, at least in the original meaning of the term. These days, it’s as likely implying a filing cabinet for edgy reactionism as a shelf labelled “miscellany, etc.” full of lawnmowers, used shoelaces, a banana, and similar items. To find out which piece of furniture sole member (apart from guitar solos and lyrics) Toby Driver throws beavers at, I could embed any Maudlin Of The Well song and call it a day. A more interesting exhibit, however: Kayo Dot’s debut album, Choirs Of The Eye was a reaction to a series of internet discussions (with some Opeth fans on some metal forum) about composition. Toby Driver decided to write an album without repetition, predictable sections, or traditional riffs, and so he did. To quote Roger Waters from that song on Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma that’s got “Furry” in its title, “Well, that was pretty avant-garde now, wasn’t it?”

Unlike much of their discography, Moss Grew On The Swords And Plowshares Alike is metal through-and-through. The sheer amount of various ingredients needing to get along here seemingly necessitate a mix that ends up a tad too thin to let the distortion through, which makes it a bit strange to see it labelled “doom metal”. There’s as much (if not more of each) death metal, post-rock, and symphonic prog on it as there is anything resembling doom, but it should already be clear that genres are of little use here. I wasn’t sure what to think about the first pair of songs, and still have reservations about their place in the track list. The first 8 minutes consist of a rhythmic Isis-like ebb-and-flow, accented by vocals mixing tenor cleans with echoing death growls. Though it detours through odd-rhythm riffs (look, mom, I didn’t mention King Crimson even once… ah, crap!) and percussive variations, I remember barely anything from “The Knight Errant” except for the middle of the song. There, a synth solo impossibly fits into the ungraspable rhythm and glues everything together. At that moment, I “get” it, but the glue soon wanders off, and a vocal display that comes off as trying to fit too much into the lines puts a not-the-good-kind-of erratic touch to the rest of the song. “Brethren Of The Cross” is a progressive death/doom number with a lot of impressive moments, such as the subtle hook syncope in the main riff’s final beats and the violent growls. As a whole, and placed such as it is, however, it mostly settles the album dynamic into a mid-pace groove continued from the opener, and gets repetitive too quick.

Luckily, the beautiful 70s prog throwback epic that is “Void In Virgo (The Nature Of Sacrifice)” soon comes along to save the day. Paradoxically, as the least metal song on an album made more accessible and memorable by the larger focus on metal, it is one of the most memorable cuts on here. A neat Yes vibe runs through its melodic verses and slightly unpredictable guitar solos as we follow a woman’s journey through forests and up a mountain where she decides to drop dead to a sickly-sweet, excellent anthem of a chorus. It's colourful and fuzzy like a bumblebee in flight; no need to re-listen, it’ll be stuck in your brain already. Two more songs displaying some very impressive drum work and a slightly try-hardy attempt to write Very Extreme Metal™, respectively, follow. Then, the contrast between airy atmospheric ambiance, restless drums, and oppressive blackened screams in “The Necklace” seals the deal for me: this album’s a keeper. The prog death movements intertwining back and forth throughout the closing track before the album collapses into a 5-minute long terrific drone soundscape is just icing on the cake.

A slightly frustrating listen depending on mood, perhaps, as there are as many parts that simply work as parts that sort of don’t. However, when Moss Grew On The Swords And Plowshares Alike simply works, it is indisputably exquisite music, and when it sort of doesn’t, it is still very decent music. Now, it’s probably a waste of fingers crossed to hope Kayo Dot doesn’t go for something entirely different next time, right?


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 7





Written on 24.11.2021 by Here's Tom with the weather...


Comments

Comments: 17   Visited by: 83 users
24.11.2021 - 09:58
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Still trying to wrap my head around their music after so many years.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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24.11.2021 - 10:18
JoHn DoE

Written by RaduP on 24.11.2021 at 09:58

Still trying to wrap my head around their music after so many years.


yeah, me too.
I don't know if I should give this a chance or not.
----
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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24.11.2021 - 10:26
Deadsoulman

Same here. This is the kind of band I obviously don't get. I don't remember enjoying any of their albums. Haven't listened to this one yet though.
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24.11.2021 - 10:46
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed all of their albums and they're probably in my top 20 bands of all time. Doesn't mean that I'm done getting them.
----
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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24.11.2021 - 11:14
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Deadsoulman on 24.11.2021 at 10:26

Same here. This is the kind of band I obviously don't get. I don't remember enjoying any of their albums. Haven't listened to this one yet though.

General opinion around the webs seems to be this is their most accessible album... relative to the context, of course

Written by RaduP on 24.11.2021 at 10:46

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed all of their albums and they're probably in my top 20 bands of all time. Doesn't mean that I'm done getting them.

Sounds like I'll need a week off from college to possibly get into their whole discography. Hey, never stop getting them, keep busy for decades to come!
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24.11.2021 - 11:28
Sand

You're so funny huehue I'll check this out. Loved Coffins on Io. I'm one of the people here with truly avantgarde brains so this should fit, right?
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Non serviam
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24.11.2021 - 11:49
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Sand on 24.11.2021 at 11:28

You're so funny huehue I'll check this out. Loved Coffins on Io. I'm one of the people here with truly avantgarde brains so this should fit, right?

Either that, or it'll all sound like pop to you!
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24.11.2021 - 12:04
JoHn DoE

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 11:14


General opinion around the webs seems to be this is their most accessible album... relative to the context, of course



is it more accessible than Coffins On Io?
----
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
Loading...
24.11.2021 - 12:09
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by JoHn DoE on 24.11.2021 at 12:04

is it more accessible than Coffins On Io?

I wouldn't know, haven't heard that one! Context aside, I'd say this is a fairly straight forward tune:
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24.11.2021 - 12:11
Deadsoulman

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 11:14

Written by Deadsoulman on 24.11.2021 at 10:26

Same here. This is the kind of band I obviously don't get. I don't remember enjoying any of their albums. Haven't listened to this one yet though.

General opinion around the webs seems to be this is their most accessible album... relative to the context, of course



Well, first opinion is: mixed feelings. I found this statement of yours to be very true: "A slightly frustrating listen depending on mood, perhaps, as there are as many parts that simply work as parts that sort of don’t". I actually really enjoyed some bits (like that video above) while others seemed like endless intros to pretty much nowhere. Also, context or not, I wouldn't call this accessible But unlike the person a few posts up, my brain is not really avantgardely wired.
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24.11.2021 - 12:20
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Deadsoulman on 24.11.2021 at 12:11

Well, first opinion is: mixed feelings. I found this statement of yours to be very true: "A slightly frustrating listen depending on mood, perhaps, as there are as many parts that simply work as parts that sort of don’t". I actually really enjoyed some bits (like that video above) while others seemed like endless intros to pretty much nowhere. Also, context or not, I wouldn't call this accessible But unlike the person a few posts up, my brain is not really avantgardely wired.

I enjoy bunches of... "wired" music but can only take so much before I need something I can sing along to. This album often pushed the limits of my patience, but a few times it all seemed to click much better. Fuck if I know what I have to do to recreate that state of mind, hah. I expect it to end up an album I'll replay a bunch of times until ending up with tracks 3, 6, and 7 stuffed away for the future. It's definitely in "acquired taste"-land, I replayed it at least 5 times before coming up with anything useful at all to write about it.
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24.11.2021 - 12:21
JoHn DoE

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 12:09

Written by JoHn DoE on 24.11.2021 at 12:04

is it more accessible than Coffins On Io?

I wouldn't know, haven't heard that one! Context aside, I'd say this is a fairly straight forward tune:



I liked that, i'm gonna give the album a chance.
----
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
Loading...
24.11.2021 - 15:57
Maldone

This probably is their most accessible album at least to metal fans. Coffins On Io and Plastic House On Base Of Sky might be more accessible to general audience but this is certainly their most most metal album to date, so it could possibly appeal even to those who didn't particulary enjoyed their previous work. I am a big fan of their entire discography, and at this point I think I prefer only Hubardo and Choirs Of The Eye to this one.
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24.11.2021 - 16:31
Netzach
Planewalker
Written by Maldone on 24.11.2021 at 15:57

This probably is their most accessible album at least to metal fans. Coffins On Io and Plastic House On Base Of Sky might be more accessible to general audience but this is certainly their most most metal album to date, so it could possibly appeal even to those who didn't particulary enjoyed their previous work. I am a big fan of their entire discography, and at this point I think I prefer only Hubardo and Choirs Of The Eye to this one.

I read that Hubardo was tied with this one for heaviest of theirs. I've only listened to the debut and this one so far, will investigate.
Loading...
24.11.2021 - 16:58
Maldone

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 16:31

Written by Maldone on 24.11.2021 at 15:57

This probably is their most accessible album at least to metal fans. Coffins On Io and Plastic House On Base Of Sky might be more accessible to general audience but this is certainly their most most metal album to date, so it could possibly appeal even to those who didn't particulary enjoyed their previous work. I am a big fan of their entire discography, and at this point I think I prefer only Hubardo and Choirs Of The Eye to this one.

I read that Hubardo was tied with this one for heaviest of theirs. I've only listened to the debut and this one so far, will investigate.

This one is definitely their heaviest. I guess you could say Hubardo is on heavier side too, but it's closer in style to debut than to this one.
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24.11.2021 - 18:50
Sand

Written by Maldone on 24.11.2021 at 16:58

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 16:31

Written by Maldone on 24.11.2021 at 15:57

This probably is their most accessible album at least to metal fans. Coffins On Io and Plastic House On Base Of Sky might be more accessible to general audience but this is certainly their most most metal album to date, so it could possibly appeal even to those who didn't particulary enjoyed their previous work. I am a big fan of their entire discography, and at this point I think I prefer only Hubardo and Choirs Of The Eye to this one.

I read that Hubardo was tied with this one for heaviest of theirs. I've only listened to the debut and this one so far, will investigate.

This one is definitely their heaviest. I guess you could say Hubardo is on heavier side too, but it's closer in style to debut than to this one.




Greetings, Serbian sister or brother!
----
Non serviam
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25.11.2021 - 14:26
DahliaRock

Written by JoHn DoE on 24.11.2021 at 10:18

Written by RaduP on 24.11.2021 at 09:58

Still trying to wrap my head around their music after so many years.


yeah, me too.
I don't know if I should give this a chance or not.


YES! GIVE! RIGHT NOW!

Written by JoHn DoE on 24.11.2021 at 12:04

Written by Netzach on 24.11.2021 at 11:14


General opinion around the webs seems to be this is their most accessible album... relative to the context, of course



is it more accessible than Coffins On Io?


Coffins was Kayo at its most accessible, rhythmic throughout the whole song, a bit more doomy but definitely adhered to general conventions of a song structure. This album is rather a mix of PHOBOS, CoI and Blasphemy when it comes to sound, Dowsing Anemone for its sheer ferocity, and Hubardo minus the folksy sounds that got extracted with his solo albums. It definitely sounds like Toby rammed all around the place like a pinball machine in the past 4 years trying to improve his singing and recording and finally found his sweet spot. Compositions, albeit diverse and complex, make sense. It doesn't cut back in intensity, yet doesn't immediately grasp you from the throat like Hubardo.

On another note, in his AMA he has stated that this was the sound that he wanted to achieve and was content with the mix and instrumentations. I was surprised that he doesn't view Hubardo as the gem most of us see, due to the mix belonging to Dunn. In his own words: "When you hear Hubardo, you are hearing Randall Dunn’s lens of my music". I honestly thought the expansive nature of Hubardo's sound gave so much room in the claustrophobic construction of Toby's ethereal vision, but I suppose this is the pinnacle we were supposed to witness at the end of the day!
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