Kaleikr
Heart of Lead


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (132 Reviews)
February 21st, 2019 | 27 replies


Release Date: 02/15/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A songwriting method - however contentious it may be - is only as good as the quality of the songwriters themselves. Heart of Lead is proof of that.

Kaleikr have re-ignited a question I’ve been asking for years: at what point does repetition become good or bad? Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever found a clear-cut answer to that question. It’s fascinating that we can praise a Sunn O))) or Lightning Bolt record for the exact same reason we harshly criticize the latest pop-rap snorefest by the likes of Pitbull. Is it because of the intent behind it? That’s probably one of the strongest answers, but I don’t think it fully illustrates the entire reason. Repetition can be used for cynical cash cows like Pitbull, but many pop and dance jams that revolve around repetition are still enjoyable, regardless of intent.

But Heart of Lead partially answered my question by offering something a bit more unique. This actually goes back to my Eleanor Friedberger review from last year; in that write-up I explained how Rebound’s hypnotic qualities are a perfect foil for more interesting experiments to crawl out of the woodwork. Similarly, Heart of Lead uses a mesmerizing brand of post/progressive black metal as a deceptive cover for the varied contents within. “Internal Contradiction”’s brutal mid-song riffage and tempo shifts are suddenly more effective when they’re clashing with more esoteric soundscapes. The title track’s explosion of screams and anguished tremolo picking is much more earned when you’ve got such a beautifully melancholic buildup to precede it. “Beheld at Sunrise” also benefits from a great buildup, using rolling drums and a mournful piano to properly foreshadow its gutting riffs and doom-laden atmosphere. It’s almost like some twisted form of cinematic grief.

The formula that makes Heart of Lead so great seems so easy, but it’s incredibly difficult to master. How many bands have tried to use this contrasting ebb-and-flow format and fallen on their asses? Luckily, much like fellow metal bands who have miraculously succeeded with these contrasts - such as Opeth and Giant Squid - Kaleikr seem up to the challenge. Much of their appeal comes from how they’re already on their way to mastering the art of atmosphere, mostly revolving around melancholy and solemn contemplation. Even at their heaviest moments, such as the dissonant breakdowns of “Of Unbearable Longing” or the downtuned doom riffs that fuel “Eternal Stalemate and a Never-Ending Sunset” (that’s one hell of a title), the umbral mood remains thick and unceasing.

But perhaps most importantly, it still comes off as very colorful and textured. There are many layers to peel back on Heart of Lead whether you’re focusing on the treble or bass end of the production; on certain moments, especially when the blastbeats and tremolo guitars merge as one single beast, there’s a strange beauty to the aggression. It often takes me back to Ulver’s early days as a black metal outfit, and that’s certainly a good thing. Heart of Lead is an album that knows how to manipulate a listener’s patience and understanding of dynamics, and I’m sure that will come in handy as they continue to evolve. So, to answer the original question: what makes this repetition good? That’s because the record immerses in its possibilities, as Kaleikr are aware that they could pull the strings and play around with the repetition as needed without compromising their sound. Quite an impressive feat for a debut album, I'd say.




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user ratings (50)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DivergentThinking
February 21st 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I used a bit more of a personal/conversational stance here, but I think it worked fine in the context of what I was arguing. Perhaps you could see this more as an editorial or something like that. Either way, this album is quite awesome :]

Hawks
February 21st 2019


73852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saw Brandon post this on Facebook the other day, gotta hear asap. Sweet review bro. m/

Digging: Havukruunu - Uinuos Symein Sota

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2019


20569 Comments


Great review man, love the casual tone. I've only heard a couple of tracks off this and it sounds interesting.

Digging: Jaga Jazzist - Pyramid

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2019


11323 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Had this queued up in my list and this is only increasing my interest. POS fo sho my man, review is well thought-out and provides a great personal aspect to the analysis.

Digging: TRVSS - New Distances

DivergentThinking
February 22nd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks everyone!



@Hawks: Yeah, Brandon's the one who led me to this album :]

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2019


26870 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review Brendan. I think you perfectly described the nuance behind the extremity. I’m really glad you ended up like this so much!

Digging: Bone Awl - An Obelisk Marks the Line

DivergentThinking
February 22nd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks man! This is definitely one of my favorite metal albums of the year so far

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2019


11323 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mmhmm bout time I had some more metal to dig into that broke from the 'meh' crowd I've had thus far. Tasty stuff

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2019


14601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been jamming this in the last couple of days, solid stuff.



Nice review

Digging: Black Crown Initiate - Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape

DungeonBoy
February 22nd 2019


7877 Comments


Stream/Purchase on Bandcamp:

https://kaleikr.bandcamp.com/album/heart-of-lead

DivergentThinking
February 22nd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Oh shit yeah, I forgot to add a comment regarding the Bandcamp link. Thanks DungeonBoy

DungeonBoy
February 22nd 2019


7877 Comments


yeah dude. I enjoyed your review, have a POS. I like the vocals and songwriting on this. I'm gonna add it to my list.

Hawks
February 22nd 2019


73852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Starting this now. m/

DivergentThinking
February 22nd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

It's also streaming on Spotify for anyone who doesn't use Bandcamp m/

Hawks
February 22nd 2019


73852 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is really good. m/

DivergentThinking
February 22nd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hellyeah man m/

Essence
February 22nd 2019


6384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

certified super banger, little long tho

DivergentThinking
February 23rd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I think the length is ok... there aren't too many tracks on it, which mitigates that issue a bit

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2019


14601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These guys explore diverse textures throughout the album, that's cool

DivergentThinking
February 23rd 2019


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, that’s definitely one of their main appeals



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