Stop paying attention for a minute and a slew of underground acts with immense talent will pass by. There’s just a lot of music out there. Obviously. When Basick Records pulled the pin on Askesis, the label debut of multi-nation marauding powerhouse Calligram, they dug deep into the ground, wrenching out a wholly satisfying genre blender of most unholy nature. And there’s so many big dirty riffs, before the stiff upper lip of review speak gets too much. Riffs and beats and grooves, too.
The opening six minute salvo of “Della Mancanza” discharges all of the bite and snarl of Calligram at their frenzied, blackened blast beating best. It’s the strongest sort of opener as it really sets and raises expectations from the get go. Prominent guitar harmonies and discords are a staple of the nourishing metal experience of Askesis, featuring prominently alongside the inevitable descent into bass heavy funeral dirge. “Sinking Into Existence” dives further into the band’s burgeoning doom chops, leaving everything on the table with further sonic terror; flashes of thundering death metal and anguished retching not like if the Devil Sold His Soul and lay in a Cradle of Filth. Something like that anyway.
Maybe the furthest thing from the tone of this year’s fantastic Sunlight’s Bane release, Askesis still carries all of the same splendors of bite and drive. With cleaner edges around the guitars, the bass scrapes from passage to passage, pulling the rest of the song behind it’s dense weight. Some bands do the wall of nihilistic rage thing with a blanket of blackout noise. Calligram do it with forever piercing twin guitars and the smoothest of transitions too. The screamed offerings move through the mayhem, offering body and volume when necessary, drawing back when retreating into the shadows. Spooky, huh?
Askesis only loses it’s destructive momentum when wandering from the crazy paved path. The final third of the record features one suitably eerie yet momentum stalling interlude and an even shorter song. “Entwined” is a pleasing burst of ultra violence, it must be said. It’s placement among the interlaced vines of breakneck pace and caveman aggression, still pleasing but unsettling. Not quite unnerving. Calligram do finish strong with the hellfire belching riff soup that is “Lament”. Anything but sorrowful, the last dance is memorable. The big build up to this colossal bludgeon-down only disappointing in it’s failure to tear down the walls of perception, emotion, life and suffering with the big drop.
When looking at year end lists, Askesis might not make most because the release was so late in the year. Who cares? If Calligram are a youthful metal head in the making’s first favourite band then that would be fantastic. The chugging, churning metal is instantly likable and offers plenty for compulsive listeners to tuck into on further listening. Music for die hards and passers by, 2017 will go down as a fantastic year for the murky, vicious end of extreme music. Calligram will go down in the final fight of the year, swinging bloody, broken hands at whoever you put in front of them.
Askesis is available now via Basick Records.