In a year filled with the most impressive technical death metal and vile sludge to be heard in a long time, Empty Yard Experiment and their debut album Kallisti are a welcome distraction. Containing a multinational lineup and based out of Dubai, not exactly known for its metal output, the band have released an album that is as much a throwback to the likes of early Alice In Chains as it is a great example of modern production values. With plenty to praise there also comes a fair few nits to pick also – the criticism of a debut album would not be complete without them.
Like a lot of post-metal, vocals are a rare commodity throughout the album. When the vocalist does get to stretch his pipes it is almost possible to hear Layne Stayley and Jerry Cantrell circa Dirt oozing from the speakers. While definitely styled after these two it is not derivative at all – more of a fond homage to one of the greatest vocal pairings in history. ‘Greenflash’ and ‘Entropy’ have huge Alice inflected choruses and vocal hooks that would put a smile on any early 90’s Seattle rocker. If the album contained a lot more of this then it could be seen as a pastiche more than a tribute but thankfully this is not so.
The meat of the album is made up of several songs that sprawl across electronica tinged industrial to acoustic rock. Big, old fashioned Tool and Porcupine Tree riffs do make up a chunk of the material and comparisons do begin to be drawn more than is necessarily comfortable. Where the band come into their own is in the tracks that contain expansive areas of lavish keys and soundbites. ‘Lost In A Void’ is a purely instrumental blend of the tried and tested quiet to loud formula, mapped over with layer upon layer of synth. ‘Untitled’ is the only real acoustic number here and while it drifts of into soundbite obscurity midway through, is still a really well written ballad of sorts. Again, the implentation of keys helps create a full song out of several ideas.
What lets the album down most is the run time and the unnecessary batch of filler tracks. Titled ‘Red’, ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’, they offer nothing to the experience of the album. With several songs running into the six and seven minute territory, there are definitely some extended intros and outros that can be skipped if listening right through. This, along with some seemingly recycled riffs in the latter stages of the album prevent this album from being great but are clearly teething issues from a band that are beginning to find their feet.
While there is definitely some fat that could do with trimming, Kallisti is an intriguing debut that merits mention among the bands they are quite clearly influenced by. Some tweaking with their songwriting and dropping the unnecessary filler tracks could result in Empty Yard Experiment taking a chunk out of the introspective, ambient rock market that they probably deserve.
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Empty Yard Experiment’s Kallisti gets…