In this tsunami of metal bands out there trying to catch a spot in the limelight, you sometimes miss the promising ones moving up through its murky depths and focus on pieces floating before you already. Because you know: Those got promise, as they are well known, right? But do they really?
To top it, the Murky Ones are sometimes very difficult to pin down. Either they got an otherworldly style or are simply not quite refined yet. Meaning, they won’t get your immediate (and easy) attention as a reviewer, the way other bands can. And this is often a pity, ’cause we may miss hidden gems. Kausalgia and their debut album Dreamquest is just such an album.
Now, why do I say this?
After all their approach is not necessarily new or so outlandishly innovative, it would blow you away. The difference resides in the style and – I daresay – in the way they just usurp ambient and atmospheric elements for their metal mix.
Kausalgia gets you a large shot of blackened Insomnium at first, served ice-cold. The Nordic influence is by the way clearly visible in the sound structure throughout the record. So, this often sounds like some sort of a Melodic Death Metal tune, but with rasps not grunts or growls.
In this light, the album does not really fit the purist Death Metal road. Because rasps and screams usually have no place in this particular universe. To really drive this point home, the band peppers some of their tracks with Progressive Metal injections and takes the Doom Death Metal road for some others too.
Kausalgia created a very varied piece of metal with Dreamquest, spiced with melodic stuff and acoustics. And it was very long in the making. The recording started back in 2013 (I kid you not…) and they only finished earlier in 2016. And this for an 8-track record to boot.
So, does Dreamquest deliver at all?
Kausalgia impress with a downturned, dark riffing that is prevalent throughout the record. Again, their tune often wanders into a territory usually occupied by the Melodic Death Metal crowd. Whereas Dreamquest definitely dwells at the fringes of the Black Metal sphere of influence.
A lot of die-hard Black Metal fans will take exception to the naturalist parts, with bird song and other sounds of nature present at the beginning of some of the tracks. But I like these atmospheric infusions into what would otherwise be a totally desert-dry Black and Dark Metal offering.
The acoustics that suddenly appear at strategic points of the record do add a lot to the allure of the disc, too. And this is sorely needed. The brick walls reach high on Dreamquest. This, in turn, renders the riffs very loud alongside everything else. To the point that the record becomes difficult to take in by the casual listener. And that’s a pity with all the lengthy effort the band put into this limited amount of tracks.
Speaking about them tracks!
I feared that the band would serve us with one of these horrible intros in The Call. But nope! After some Oldfield-esque acoustics, tremolo picking gets the better of the song. As it bloody well should. And then we are in Nordic blackened territory.
Corny, pounding, doom-laden riffing is prevalent throughout Dreamquest, but one of the juicier parts can be found in Thorns. The track darkly pulls you in at first, before gathering some speed later. I like the addition of some progressive injections – djents and all – into this heavy amalgam of riffs and rasps.
Now, something that struck me is the curious absence of solos. Not that there are none, Sarastus sports one of the rare ones. Albeit not the most thoughtful shredding that I ever heard. This gets me to the next negative. The song structure overall is pretty simple, with the lyrics and rhythms seemingly wrapped around the guitar lead. And this risks wearing you out after a while, creating this impression of blandness. A false impression of blandness to be precise.
Now, Dreamquest is a varied platter of pleasures. And the ‘pièce de résistance’, as we say in French, gets you when we wander off into the woods with Moss. Darkly leading you into the unknown, it will first lure you into a feeling of relative safety of slowly growling doom heaven, just to hit you with Black Metal riffs and screams a moment later. The acoustic end is very fitting.
And this is the essence of Dreamquest!
Kausalgia created a rugged piece of metal with their newest album. Their tune is for sure nothing for the speed metal-craving fans of the Black Metal universe. But maybe more palatable for those able to swim in the mid-tempo, dark ocean of the Nordic Melodic Death Metal movement. Alas, ’tis no Melodeath either! Its influence clearly visible, Black Metal will darkly follow you around. What renders it interesting are the ambient and atmospheric elements that are injected and probably save the album from the gutter. Dreamquest is a good album in all. And whilst it can appear lengthy and almost bland at times, it is a varied piece of work too. And you know what, gals and guys? Just give the record some space and time to mature. Listen to it a few times and be amazed by the elements that will emerge.
Let’s hope they don’t take three years for the next one. I’ll be watching.