Review Summary: The European Periphery, and a breath of fresh air for "DjentGroove"
If you’re a stranger to progressive metal, it’s possible you’ve missed the djent wave of the last decade. Bands like Periphery, Monuments, Animals As Leaders, etc. have taken the choppy, rhythmic grooves of Meshuggah and combined them with a melodic metalcore feel. Off-time riffs, machine-like kick drum patterns, and down-tuned string instruments define the roots of the style. The progressive scene has lately become so over-saturated with copycats, building off the same foundation laid by the artists previously mentioned, that it is hard to find something carrying the “djent” moniker that feels genuine or original anymore. Enter Kadinja.
Hailing from Paris, France, Kadinja is a fairly new band (this is their debut full length after all), without much international notoriety prior to this release. That said, “Ascendancy” is a true diamond in the rough, and is one of the most refreshingly unique pieces to grace my ears this year. It is a sonically massive work throughout, with soaring vocals and guitar leads on top of one of the tightest rhythm sections to be found these days. Right from the outset in “Stone Of Mourning,” the listener is assaulted with a full-blast, dissonant chord groove that hearkens back to some early Veil Of Maya riffs. You can instantly hear the fullness of the mix, and clarity of every single instrument. “GLHF” features a riff quite similar to “The Woven Web” thumping section as well, for any Tosin Abasi fans out there. The tightness and clarity of each note really magnifies the quality of each song on here. Some of the grooves have such subtlety, that it would be hard to hear the precision without quality production. However, “Ascendancy” is a masterfully produced record, and will not disappoint any nit-picking producer types out there.
It could be argued that this is a “guitar player’s” album, featuring some excellent riffs, and even a solo feature from Rick Graham. It’s an easy argument to make, that main picker, Pierre Danel, is already well on his way to becoming one of the most renowned guitarists in the style for years to come. He has a great way of mixing very catchy melodies with mind-bending grooves. But don’t let any of this fool you: this record is a master-class from every band member. Morgan Berthet’s drumming is another huge highlight, as he keeps the complex grooves tight, while adding subtle accents and ghost notes to fill out the performance. Frontman Phillippe Charny Dewandre’s vocals are another reason to get hooked on this band. Neither his screams nor cleans are among the best within the genre, however one can feel the real emotion on his belted chorus sections.
But even if none of the individual members can say he (or she – see: recording bassist JJ Groove), is the best in the game right now, Kadinja’s sound functions as a unit to produce an absolutely fantastic piece of music, and easily one of the most intriguing to come out in 2017. I reserve “5’s” for more genre-defining moments in music history, however, this album is a clear 4.5. The production, musical technicality, band performance, and variety all earn it high marks in my book.
“Stone Of Mourning”
“Ropes Of You”