Knowing his penchant for hiring and firing band members, I wonder how Kamikabe would fare were they to find themselves in front of the mighty Mr. Schuldiner. Kamikabe are a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania band teetering precariously on the edge of tech death and hardcore and in terms of the death aspect, their sound has some obvious similarities to bands like Deeds of Flesh, Suffocation, Necrophagist, Vale of Pnath, Sophicide and Dead Will Rise. Before finding this promo in my Inbox, I’d never even heard of Kamikabe and naturally when I consider tech death my mind turns to the big boys like Nile, Dying Fetus, Vomitory and of course a more recent discovery Beneath. To get the skinny, I took to the internet and surprise, surprise master detective that I am, I discovered they have 2 EPs under their belts (2010’s Aporia and 2009’s Strength to Carrion) and have been active since 2003. What’s the Angry Metal Guy rule of thumb here I wonder, one EP means expectation, so two EPs means double the expectation? [that will be misread by approximately 85% of male readers — Steel Druhm]
Track by track Kamikabe follow Unique Leader’s very own Deeds of Flesh style formula to the letter, and the bulk of Aberration of Man is relentless, overly abstract, no holds barred technical death metal making use of numerous time signatures and tempo changes without any warning whatsoever. While this adds ferocity and unpredictability to Kamikabe’s overall sound, it also creates a completely disorienting, nebula type listening experience. Aberration of Man consists of 10 songs and runs for a total of 34 minutes, which in retrospect doesn’t seem that long until you’re trapped inside it – thankfully Kamikabe were kind enough to include a rather pretty little, aptly titled “Interlude” smack bang in the middle!
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s nothing wrong with Kamikabe’s technical ability – Jake Smatana’s (lead) riffing for example in “The Rot” is reminiscent of the technical superiority put forth by Suffocation. And both Jake and Max Short (rhythm) know their stuff and can jam, but there’s just no balls to their riffing. It seems as though they spend more time concentrating on hitting the right notes than on creating something memorable.
Drumming is left in the very capable hands of BJ Sarnese and that’s where these guys really come into their own (check out “Only the Dead Rest” and “Nefarious”). The album has some great fills and the double-bass is vicious and grinding – top marks here! However, I found it extremely difficult to appreciate Matt Grossi’s vocal styling. He uses a mixture of heavy death growls and hardcore roaring shrieks (possibly going for a Misery Index effect but never quite getting there) that I found unintelligible and for the most part grating.
Aberration of Man has a good clean mix, and in retrospect maybe too clean. For the most part the album comes at you around throat height and there’s just too much angry, with no subtle textures or flavours to grab you and throw you into the mosh pit. Think pizza with only cheese, no pizza sauce and no extras. A grim thought indeed!
Sadly this feels like just another typical Unique Leader offering and there’s nothing here that sets Kamikabe apart from the score of bands already out there. Were Kamikabe to consider a new vocalist and a less abstract, ill-defined approach to their riffing, I suspect we could hear great things from these guys. In terms of songs that will draw me back to this album, “Magure” was probably the most melodic or memorable offering, and here Kamikabe managed to throw in some chugging, infectious rhythm that caught my attention, that said I doubt that it’s enough to get me to spin the whole album again.