Strangely deciding to label themselves ‘intense heavy metal’, Northamptonshire’s Krysthla pack several fistfuls more of unadulterated brutality into their debut album than the Iron Maidens and Judas Priests of this world suggested by that tag. Drawing from the increasingly popular melting pot of metalcore, thrash and downtuned tech-metal, often lazily labelled simply as ‘modern metal’, Krysthla could certainly not be accused of slacking off on the aggression front. The skin-flaying precision of the thrashing riff of opener ‘The Minority of One’ sets the violent tone for the whole album and from there on their collective foot never comes off the pedal. Beatdowns are frequent and simplistic, designed to bait an energetic crowd into flailing their limbs and heads with abandon, drawing marked comparison to London trailblazers The Defiled. Every track is powered by the incisive click of the kick drum, leading the churning grooves and making it nigh-on impossible not to move some part of your body along to their hulking weight, the guitars maintaining a good deal of distinctive, crunchy melody throughout as every note is pronounced and blasted out with conviction. Nothing has been spared on giving A War of Souls and Desires the full, crisp and clean metal production that the genre now demands, making the assault all the more aurally impressive. On occasion the most chuggy of the riffs outstay their welcome somewhat and by the time the grinding, never-ending breakdown of ‘Caged Earth’ hits, you begin to wonder whether Krysthla have in fact started playing their sound by numbers. However, the flagrant tech-metal of ‘By Way of Deception’ pulls things back onto an interesting path, the influence of Meshuggah writ large across its plaintive leads and jarring whirl of juggernaut riffing. But alas, ‘The Human Cipher’ is a return to the familiar and more formulaic kind of calculated metallic song architecture. Vocalist Adi Mayes has tapped into the hardcore-influenced vocal style that is all the rage in heavy music these days and, to his credit, pulls it off without letting it trail too far into the try-hard angst pitfalls many frontmen seem to get caught in. Far from reinventing the wheel, Krysthla have nestled themselves firmly into a recognisable sound and refuse to let you ignore them. The UK metal scene has produced many a fine band of this ilk in recent times, but this debut may be evidence that Krysthla have the endurance and the undeniable venomous energy to be one of the relative few to hang around the circuit for the long haul.
For fans of: Mnemic, Heart of a Coward, The Defiled