If you have yet to hear about Akeldama, you are missing out on “Everything Beautiful.” From Tampa, Florida, USA Akeldama is causing major waves with the release of their first full-length album. Noteworthy, is that this album was produced by Akeldama’s very own, Andrew Zink, who has helped produce loads of other bands (Sarkophagus, Dysmorpha, Ovid’s Withering and Holly Maddux to name a few). “Everything Beautiful” features Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor), Ashe O’Hara (Tesseract), Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) and the astounding album artwork was done by the infamous Daniel McBride (of Sumerian Records and MANY other bands).
“Everything Beautiful” has grown on me tremendously since my first listen. I certainly dug the album at first, (what’s not to dig about technical groove, ambient effects and perfect production nailed on a band’s first full-length) but it’s the great ones that keep secrets, unveiling them over time. One aspect of the album that goes from “wut?” to “goddamn that’s insanely pleasant!” is Zink’s clean vocals, which are destined to become one of the most recognizable vocals in modern progressive metal. He reaches extreme highs with bliss, lifting all the surroundings with him. Some segments have me like “Yo! Drew Z! Put me down bro! I’m trying to play Magic: The Gathering – Duels of The Planeswalkers 2013” Especially during those catchy choruses, like heard in “Apotheosis”, “A Glimpse Of Perfection” and “Love Forever Threaded.”
The appropriateness of song order and interludes is no mistake. “Everything Beautiful” plays like an interactive story. “A New Beginning” and “Still Heart” are attractive openers, the former with a guitar solo that wears Keshav Dhar all over it. “Desolate and Lost” leaves the bases loaded for the power hitter, “Apotheosis.” During “Apotheosis” is when the album starts to materialize, musically and lyrically. By reading the lyrics and using the artwork as a visual aid it is easy to imagine the setting Akeldama paints. “Apotheosis” seems to be the transcendence through the mystical stone gateway which leads to a special world, then, segmented by a vibrant interlude that sounds like Disney’s Fantasia live in concert, uplifting and magical, before a mischievously screeching spiral. If you follow the album as Akeldama intended, then it is no secret that the skies are about to darken.
I am emphatically reminded of the Skyrim quest that enters the deranged mind of Pelagius, the one with the Wabbajack and the tea party. “Into Infernus” is a monster that grows from an intangible groove riff. A very cool aspect of this song is how the lyrics sync up with the music. Just as Akeldama sheds the first riff and drops into a muted groove comes “and at once everything comes to a stop, this place grows cold and silent, a stillness like I’ve never felt before.” From there, the songs and lyrics amplify. All this delivered in demonic growl form, shared between Zink and Connor Reibling. The caliber of vocal dynamic and choreography between the two is simply unparalleled. Listen closely, if I am not mistaken, the higher of the two screams belongs to Reibling. It’s an articulated creature like voice, like that of Vulgrim from Darksiders.
Cavernous guitar patterns progress through “Shadow of an Entity.” I declare it impossible to get this song loud enough. I’m not sure what qualifies as “loud enough” but the technology just doesn’t exist yet. “A Seed of Hope” is a diverse tune that smooths the heavy djent middle into the departure of “Everything Beautiful.” The drummer just eats and eats groove for days as track 8 trails by. The three flawlessly structured tracks that finish the album off are in a league of their own. The album’s title track features guitar master Per Nilsson, and the voice of a thousand angels, Ashe O’Hare, so I really shouldn’t have to tell you that this outro is one for the ages.
Akeldama will not fly under the radar long after releasing “Everything Beautiful.” This is one of 2013’s top albums of the genre. You can listen to and download “Everything Beautiful,” a powerful 53 minutes, on Bandcamp. The full album stream can also be heard via Youtube.
Akeldama has a very distinct and unique sound but for fans of Ovid’s Withering, Meshuggah, Uneven Structure, and Scar Symmetry.