Review Summary: A good band becomes a great band.
After 6 years, Karybdis are still submerged in the undersea scene of London, UK. They managed to break the surface with their debut album “From The Depths” in 2012 but they soon sunk back to the depths despite the fact that they showed great promise in uncompromising metalcore that gave all the modern bands, who seem to gain attention through replicated music, a huge kick up the rear. It was through no fault of their own though as many promising bands slip through the nets of heavy metal: Anterior, Threat Signal and (to some extent) Unearth just to name a few.
Going by the sound of their sophomore album “Samsara”, another furious kick in the arse of modern metal is imminent. Straight of the bat of opener ‘Rorschach’ is a tirade of Rich O’Donnell’s condemning growls flanked by technical grooves. The best bit is that we haven’t heard all this before- Karybdis continue to display clear influences from bands such as At The Gates and Lamb Of God like they did on their debut but now they’ve added their own features to the music. Therefore small inclusions like string elements on ‘Rorschach’ and quirky SiKth-like hooks on ‘Ascendancy’ come as a welcoming surprise. O’Donnell’s vocals also differ from most vocalists in the metalcore genre. His voice remains continuously brutal throughout “Samsara” and is able to generate big (and explicable) choruses in ‘Forsaken’ without relying on any whiny clean vocals that seem so prominent nowadays.
The greatest asset for Karybdis is the outstanding guitar work. Pierro Dujardin and Matt Lowry show us that they know their way up, down and around the fret board in all songs of “Samsara”. The can perform alarmingly fast grooves with savage execution like in the title track and ‘Constellations’ while still maintaining a high degree of technicality within contrasting melodious moments. Just like the sirens of mermaids, the actual song ‘Mermaids’ lures us into a false sense of security through tranquil guitars and violins only to be ravaged by a vortex of jagged riffs. ‘Summon The Tides’ has a great balance of both light and heavy. Mellifluous violins glide across tranquil seas that are smashed by the sudden rigid drumming from Mitch McGugan and the breakdown towards the end of the song provides us with a stand out moment to the album where incredible, defiant stamps relentlessly trample across anything in Karybdis’s course.
There really isn’t much to improve on Karybdis’s sophomore album. Sure, ‘Mermaids’ features a few cheesy lyrics that would usually find their way into a Nightwish or Within Temptation song but then the lyrics on the other nine songs match the condemning attitude of the lyricists’ voice. Yes, ‘Avarice’ sounds like a direct cut from their debut album but even then it still sounds untamed and doesn't really affect the listening experience of the album; if anything the experience is made better by Mark Lewis’s (DevilDriver, The Black Dahlia Murder) crisp production.
It’s strange how you try and pick out bad aspects from this album because it’s so impressive for such a ‘new’ band. After you embrace the lack of pessimism, you then realise that this is definitely the time for Karybdis to rise from the depths and claim the attention that they rightfully deserve.