As with a good ninety percent of Mediterranean death metal bands, Kenòs predicate their style on a brutal but boring interpretation of American brutal death, accented with a drum sound that’s preened like a fancy pigeon and monotonous vocals. Somebody out there likes this stuff, I’m sure, but that person isn’t me. Doomed to review Italian death metal every three months like clockwork, I can at least thank Kenòs for trying something a bit different here; experiments may not abound, but the band’s approach combines more oddities than one might expect, cramming in a bit of Oracles-era Fleshgod Apocalypse melody and experimentation. Yet a few fun riffs do not a good album make, and the band’s fourth album, Pest, consigns itself early on to the circular file in which I store almost all of the death metal I get from this area of the world.
If you’re in for the ride anyway, you might as well skip to the highlights. Pest has cool moments scatttered through a few songs, and if they’d bother to concatenate them this would have made for a decent bit of Fleshgod worship. “Leave Me Alone” gets a few of the band’s fast, chuggy breakdowns just right, but they’re hidden amongst unmemorable claptrap. Once you’ve made it all the way through the album, “The Sweeper of Remains” pops out a Van Halen solo introduced by jangly synth arpeggios, just to make sure you’re awake. “My Wooden Frame” also takes an idiosyncratic route, with leads, synths, and solo vocal spots interspersed between standard-order blastbeats. This should be memorable, but is not.
Despite a few creative riffs, the overwhelming majority of this album reeks of sloppy writing and an over-reliance on blast beats as both punctuation and filler. Kenòs seem to think that dynamics means the difference between hammering the bass drum twelve times a second and not hammering the bass drum twelve times a second. Most songs start with a second or two of not blastbeats and then launch into them like they just invented the concept. This is the sort of dynamic contrivance that would make a big impact once on a good album, but is used at least once every thirty seconds here. Drumming fluctuates between sparse and overbearing as the guitar work skips between technical and tremolos, and synths and other oddities cram themselves into whatever gaps the band leave between their half-baked riff bricks. These songs have no emotional arc or center-point and the band seem to repeat riffs and jump styles at almost random intervals.
It goes without saying that Pest clocks in below DR6 and is dominated by super-loud vocals and tightly polished snare tone. As a cruel prank, Kenòs does list a bass player among their members. I’m sure he’s the guy in the opeth shirt who looks like he’s not sure he should be there. One of the other three in there is a guitar wizard whose talents are totally wasted on this material, and another is Giulio Galati form Hideous Divinity, one of the bands that I like to blame for conitnuing to popularize this dreck.
While I wouldn’t call Pest downright incompetent, I consider it a chore to listen to and a burden to write about. Much like how it consists of the scraped-together ideas of nearly identical Mediterranean bands, one could have written this review using only the scraped-together complaints from my reviews of those bands. And in fact, I pledge to do exactly that for the next mediocre Mediterranean death metal band I’m saddled wth reviewing. If these bands refuse to bring anything fresh to the table, then so do I.