I can’t seem to write an opening paragraph worthy of this album. I could overwhelm you with some forced analogy but I’d rather get straight to the point – Akeldama is the best upcoming progressive metal band out there.
It is as simple as that. The fact that a label has not grabbed these guys up yet is a travesty. That will absolutely change when people get a chance to listen to the band’s self-released debut Everything Beautiful. It’s one of those albums that is so monstrous, so interesting, and just so damn good that it is difficult to describe – but, I’ll do my best.
Akeldama boasts Meshuggah-sized riffs throughout the entirety of Everything Beautiful, especially on the heavier tracks “Into Infernus” and “Shadow Of An Entity”. Guitarists Eric Owen’ and Jeremy Knapp’s polyrhythmic scaffolding builds some seriously crushing riffs while at the same time being able to shine in the album’s softer sections. It is important to note that Akeldama’s technical skill is stunning, and their relentless sense of groove rivals anyone in the scene. Drummer Evan Thibeault and bassist Michael Schweitzer both get their chance to shine as well on “Still Heart” and “A Glimpse Of Perfection” respectively. The consistent, complex, and technical aural assault throughout the album leaves me wanting an instrumental version to fully appreciate the musicianship. To steal from my single review of “A New Beginning”, Everything Beautiful hits all of the ‘djent’ check-boxes and still manages to be unique and interesting, something many bands can’t claim.
While the songs have some fantastic riffing, the songs are generally driven by the one-two combo of vocalists Connor Reibling and Andrew Zink. This is a departure from the traditional prog-metal guitar-driven formula, with Reibling taking on most of the album’s growls (dude has some serious chops), while Zink handles the clean vocals. Zink’s sound can be compared to Coheed And Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez, with his high-pitched, near-feminine vocals providing sanctuary among the album’s heavier sections.
Everything Beautiful is an epic of an album, sonically and lyrically, comparable to Between The Buried And Me‘s Parallax narrative. Akeldama’s lyrics are nowhere near as complex or complicated as BTBAM’s – instead they take a much more linear path with their storytelling. While this may be a disappointment for prog fans looking for existential, other-worldly themes, it fits well with the music – sacrificing the abstract in order to tell the story they built an album around. Lyrics aside, Zink’s melodies are insanely catchy. You will find yourself humming along with his voice before you even know the words. His composition gives the album an overall wintery feel, which parallels the story in a fantastic manner.
This is one of those albums that you don’t fully digest in one listen. In the past few weeks, I don’t think I’ve listened to anything else. As the last piano note fades, you get a satisfaction of the story wrapping up, as well as an overwhelming sense of it not wanting to end. It is a strange, yet enthralling feeling and a true testament to what Akeldama have done on this album. I urge you to read my feature on Akeldama to get a deeper look into the band as a whole. All in all, Everything Beautiful is an extrodinary record. These boys have created something awesome. Give it a listen.
Progressive Metal | Unsigned