Remember that scene in A New Hope where our rebel heroes get caught in an imperial trash compactor and have to somehow get out before they’re crushed into a Jedi-flavored bullion cube? Autokrator watched that classic escape and thought it would be a great idea to musically explore a similar situation in which R2D2 fails to shut down all of the garbage mashers on the detention level and Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewy are replaced by Stephen O’Malley, Nergal, Chris Barnes, and a the GM Frigidaire 1-18, respectively. It was a stupid, stupid idea.
Autokrator bill themselves as a ‘drone-death’ group, which means that this self-titled debut will fall into one of three non-overlapping categories; interesting experimental death metal, Portal, or charred faeces. No points are awarded for a correct guess. This album is the worst sounding thing I’ve ever heard and I just spent half an hour watching defective floppy drives play Beethoven. Let’s start with the positives.
The first positive is that you don’t have to listen to this album. You really don’t and you really shouldn’t. The second positive is that Six Feet Under is no longer the shittiest death metal band on the planet. Congratulations, guys I really didn’t think you had it in you. So what makes Autokrator so bad? Let’s examine.
Upon my first listen, I thought “Act 1 – The Tenth Persecution” was a pretty cool song. That thought persisted for about 90 seconds, and was replaced by shame and anger for the remaining 33 minutes of runtime. The absolutely immense wall of sound and very poppy snare tone that Autokrator use are impressive for about a minute. Their fatal mistake is that they produced about 30 times more of those minutes than anyone would ever want to experience.
Save for the incredibly boring sampled speech + cheesy synth drone of the title track, this album is nonstop hiss, compression and badness. The band have written about three riffs, all of which are just chugging on some cooked-to-death power chords, and their drummer provides a similarly varied backdrop of blastbeats and snare hits on 3 to accompany them. This goes on for a half hour.
I really cannot stress to you enough how incredibly boring and terrible sounding this album is. The only discernible sounds are the bass drum and snare, which are made out of broken amphorae. The constant jingle bell and tambourine noises that you can just barely pick up are presumably the ride, crash, and hi-hat which have been turned into anthracite through the album’s mastering process. Everything else is just the sound of little blue lights on stage monitors glowing their hearts out.
Autokrator is the Star Wars Christmas Special of death metal albums; it’s so incredibly poorly conceived and executed that it transcends being funny because of its failure and shoots out into the stratosphere of truly inexplicable works of anti-art. Every decision made in the creation of this album was a bad one, yet somehow not one person stopped it from reaching my desk, and for that, each of the people involved is morally culpable. I rabidly await the vinyl release of Autokrator not because of the chance for the album to sound better, but for the possibility that someone will do it justice and rub the entire disc to shreds on a cheese grater.