Review Summary: After 10 years of waiting, building, and careful preparation, Kayo Dot crafts their finest work since Choirs of the Eye.
Choirs of the Eye. That was the apotheosis of Kayo Dot's career. It proved itself to be one of the darkest, most intimidating, beautiful progressive post rock album of its time. Unfortunately, it was also the root of Kayo Dot's own impending degradation over time. It wouldn't be until ten years later, in 2013, that the group would be able to come close to matching its debut album. The result is the dark concept double album, Hubardo. And the wait was definitely worth it.
There are two things that already make something like Hubardo extremely daring. One: this is a concept album. Two: Hubardo is also a double album. Add the two factors together, and shouldn't be too difficult to see that Kayo Dot was out there to take a risk of possibly creating something beyond what it used to be. Of course, Hubardo hurdles beyond the likes of Gamma Knife and Stained Glass to create a sprawling monolith of an avant-garde 21st century metal work of art and puts everything they've done in the past together. The concept ends up being absolutely stunning and epic, covering the events of a meteor crashing into Earth from start to end, as written by ex-maudlin of the well vocalist, Jason Bryon. What's even more stunning than the concept itself is how it is presented and translated throughout the entire double album. The darkness of avant-garde metal and the heavy blistering abyss of death metal sections help create an atrocity of a beast and yet the band is still able to keep the beauty of the album through the trippy fusion of ambience and jazz and the complex instrumentation of progressive rock. This is where Hubardo is a massive success.
In another sense, Hubardo also has an incredible arsenal of stark individuality and notable composition to it. Not to mention has Jason Bryon written an incredible concept , but has also contributed some very harsh vocals and growls throughout Hubardo. The vocals are an essential puzzle piece in building absolute intensity to the dark, destructive nature of the album. Of course, the musicians cannot be forgotten in any way at all, as they play an even bigger role in the album. The speed, craftiness, and the power of Keith Abrams is insane and amplifies the already rising intensity of each track. The classical presence of Kayo Dot is once again back, being represented by the memorable woodwind solos of Daniel Means and the trumpet playing of Tim Byrnes. Other past members of Kayo Dot are also play very important roles in Hubardo, forming the structure of the album. To top it off, Toby Driver's lead vocals are as shocking as ever, ruthless in every way, and furious as hell. This is what the group does best.
It only takes these following advantages and strengths for Hubardo to be one of Kayo Dot's strongest album since Choirs of the Eye. It has every element that made certain aspects of past works such as Gamma Knife, Stained Glass, Coyote, and Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue strong, a nearly invincible concept, and the pinnacle of the group's musicianship. All of that is why Hubardo is deserving of the current accolades and acclaim it has so far received. And it only took 10 years for Kayo Dot to get this far. Was it worth the wait" Definitely.