Metal Storm logo
Kostnatění - Úpal review

Bandcamp music player

33 users:
Band: Kostnatění
Album: Úpal
Release date: May 2023

01. Řemen
02. Hořím Navždy
03. Rukojmí Empatie
04. Opál
05. Skrýt Se Před Bohem
06. Nevolnost Je Vše, Čím Jsem
07. Slunce Svázáno S Krvácející Zemí

What happens when Melechesh and Deathspell Omega decide to opt for an orgy? Something like this, perhaps… Kostnatění, despite the Czech moniker and content, hails from Minnesota, and explores Slavic, Oriental, and African heritages alike on Úpal (Heatstroke). What you will instantly recognise is the unmistakably Middle Eastern microtonality to basically every melody and riff on this album. What you will then recognise are the psychedelically rhythmic variations and sense of the music never really going where you would expect it to. What you will finally recognise is that Úpal is a quite unique and very inspired piece of work that keeps you guessing while clearly remembering all the oddly catchy elements that make up the sound of the album.

Okay, so, if you are not convinced already from the opening tones of "Řemen" (The Belt), you won't… actually, keep listening, and you just might. There is a lot going on here, from the Arabesque melodies to the oddball rhythms and smeared-out vocals in Czech, out of all languages. There is a very loose sense of songwriting going on here, quite progressive yet still grounded in an original melodic black style, with sections replacing each other like the waves of a psychedelic trip hitting your senses over and over. Just when you think you have got it all figured out, Kostnatění switches it all up and steadily keeps you on your toes. A harmonic melody might devolve into patterns building up towards trebly dissonance, unexpected time signatures are to be expected, and the indecipherable vocals add a lot to the mystical feeling of the music. Around 2 minutes into "Řemen", you'll see what I mean, as the opening guitar hook suddenly explodes into a wide variety of progressions, equally epic and memorable as they are technical and progressive. The song never really re-settles into its opening theme, but like an LSD trip evolves together with its surroundings and interferes with itself to create a sense of always going somewhere; you're just never sure exactly where to.

"Hořím Navždy" (I Burn Forever) then is a continuation of the almost excessive amounts of themes introduced in the opening song, and lets the same motif keep evolving into further and further variations, varying from Oriental thrash played in odd times to perfectly headbangable breaks that are all somehow reminiscent of each other while avoiding to ever really repeat themselves. It all feels very organic, as if the music is simply allowed to take its path to wherever it might be going, somewhat spontaneous yet still ensuring that every disparate, following section melds into the overall continuum seamlessly. You might not realise you are still listening to the same song halfway through "Hořím Navždy", but when you hear it all over from the beginning again, it starts to make a lot of sense.

There is something quite profound and spiritual about the descending motifs toward the end of the second track, elements which will crop up later on the album as well, giving the sense of a personal, ritualistic connection to the listening experience. There is this psychedelic sense of "turn on, tune in, drop out", as the unpredictable melodies and rhythms succeed each other into, really, more and more glorious territories. The programmed drums are simplistic enough as not to ever really draw much attention, but that is probably all for the better, as there is so much going on with just the guitar work to keep you busy for ages anyway.

Some of these lead melodies are downright weird, and some of these guitar rhythms are truly epic and catchy when they are at times given time to breathe behind all the melodic madness going on in the foreground. This is the main idea that the entire album builds on; dizzying guitar leads supported by catchy rhythm guitars that lead the listener into and out of a hypnotised, meditative, psychedelic state of being. "Opál" (Opal) is a brief respite from the madness, which especially comes together on the two final songs. "Nevolnost Je Vše, Čím Jsem" (Nausea Is All That I Am) contains the same strange, dizzying leads as the previous songs but mixes it up with a hard rocking swagger, and in the final song, some very memorable, epic, "quick blackened doom" chord progressions ends the album on a highly replayable note.

There's a lot to unpack on Kostnatění's latest album, perhaps too much for even a long-time listener. Sometimes, the guitar leads seem to lead nowhere, and it all comes off as a cavalcade of a bunch of ideas strung together with not much regard for the whole. However, these nitpicks aside, it's a highly original work of progressive black metal, and one that I believe can be made into something excellent with a bit more cohesive songwriting.

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

Written on 02.06.2023 by 100% objective opinions.


Comments: 6   Visited by: 116 users
02.06.2023 - 21:24
Hold on a second, I just realized I've been reading their name as "Konstanteni" all these years.

I love it when metal works in different musical heritages like this one. Really rewarding.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
02.06.2023 - 21:38
Rating: 9
I like that you translated the word 'opál'. Who would've guessed it was the same in English

Jokes aside, this is a great album that is somewhere between an 8 and a 9. I've settled for an 8 at the moment but with more listens it may very well end up a 9. If you like your music quite abstract and erratic this is the one album you should check out this year.
Bow to the King Hercules!
02.06.2023 - 21:41
Rating: 8
Written by Nejde on 02.06.2023 at 21:38

I like that you translated the word 'opál'. Who would've guessed it was the same in English

Well, I first thought the album title was "Opal" but turns out it was something entirely different.
04.06.2023 - 10:24
Rating: 8
A Nice Guy
Very impressive album this. It has some mind-blowing middle Eastern guitar riffs, and that juicy guitar tone is just excellent. The way in which he constructs this together is very clever and adventurous, somehow he manages to create some wonderful melodies whilst maintaining a dissonant pattern, and the drumming also has some great rhythmic beats.

Like you said too, it reminds me of Melechesh and Deathspell Omega at the same time, and that's a concept I've never heard before, and it works brilliantly well!

05.06.2023 - 14:31
Rating: 8

This album really feels like a fresh take on the concept of extreme metal; the microtonality in the solos can be hard to appreciate at times, when there's moments that just flat out sound like mistakes rather than intentional insanity, but overall it's such a different way of making black(ened) metal that I can't not appreciate it. The next time someone complains that I give a 7 or lower for the originality score when a veteran band releases a new album similar to their previous albums, I'm going to point them towards this album and show them what exactly a justified 9 for originality sounds like
05.06.2023 - 15:14
Rating: 8
Written by musclassia on 05.06.2023 at 14:31

The next time someone complains that I give a 7 or lower for the originality score when a veteran band releases a new album similar to their previous albums, I'm going to point them towards this album and show them what exactly a justified 9 for originality sounds like

Definitely. There are traces of a variety of bands in the music but it ultimately sounds like something very much of its own kind. I could easily see a following album reaching a 10 on originality if they keep going down this road. Of course, originality doesn't make or break an album, but depending on the musical style it can be a decisive factor.

I can recommend their previous EP as well. It's not as zany as this album but pretty close.

Hits total: 1301 | This month: 33