The sultry flora of Brazilian rainforests may not immediately come to mind as a focal point for incensed black metal, but Caio Lemos’ one-man project Kaatayra is well on the way to changing that. This project is enraged, but doesn’t seek to watch the world burn. In fact, it’s basically the opposite… the environmental angle is more focused, directing the venom toward the institutions and powers-that-be who have devastated so much for so many. Now, there’s certainly a lot to be pissed off about when it comes to climate change and this dude seems to be at a fever pitch about it, showing no signs of slowing down with his second release this year. Their latest, Nascido Sob o Signo Incivilizatório, is a refreshing twist on Cascadian black metal that takes the Latinx folk influences and groove-worthy rhythms established on (the fantastic debut) No Ruidar da Mata que Mirra to new heights by incorporating them into a more uniform – and more fully realized – version of the project. This is the sound of inspiration and concept meeting passion and confidence.
Thematically, Kaatayra addresses humankind’s apathetic approach to climate change by balancing invigorated, scathing black metal with immersive and lush folk elements. Lemos’ powerful lyrics (definitely worth the time to translate ‘em) make the record an even more well-rounded encounter. There’s an honesty and authenticity at Kaatayra’s core, it feels personal and unrelenting. The aggression is genuine and purposeful. Tracks like “Horizonte, Abismo,” “Chama, Pólvora e Esperança,” and “Preciso me Encontrar (Tributo ao Candeia)” have some legitimately chaotic outbursts, relaying a hyperactive, dynamic energy across the record. The drumming is fleeting and able, bounding quickly between blasts and thrashing riffage, all the more making transitions to the some of the album’s somber and dour Latinx acoustic moments seem even more improbable – and impressive. An assist from even-tempered production enhances this feel, where the intricate blackened arrangements hold equal weight to the stripped-down acoustic beats.
Lemos’ attention to detail creates a seamless, balanced, and powerful experience in every phase. The melodies can at times have this Falls of Rauros epicness to it, but it’s regularly offset with a rougher, thrashier, more pissed-off edge. Still, there’s something rhythmically keen about it; it’s so fluid in manifestations (both blackened and folk) that you might need to scrub back to figure out how you ended up in a smooth, danceable jam or amidst a lightspeed tremolo. Take for example the searing “Horizonte, Abismo” which pumps the brakes to a milder tempo (around 4:00) where an acoustic bass prys its way into the mix. Later toward the nine-minute mark the song becomes completely overgrown by acoustic Latinx grooves, miles from the metallic blaze from the track’s onset. Throughout, Lemos’ grisled bark, the wonderful backup vocals, synths and other supporting instrumentation are painstakingly and tastefully incorporated, vital to the record’s overall aesthetic. Nascido Sob o Signo Incivilizatório has both magnificent range and depth.
Kaatayra’s unique personality and humanity connect on a unique level. The abundance of groove, rhythmic layering, and entrancing folky moments create a legitimate sense of nature and vivacity. “Fogo! Na Babilonia” is at points the most blistering ripper imaginable, but it also melts down, yielding to earthy handrumming and driving acoustic rhythms. It’s a perfect segue into the central track and sole all-acoustic number, “Unhas de Bode Ecoam versus o Macaco Nu e sua Agricultura” where it’s insistent, yet curiously engrossing. It lends to a captivating flow and feels lighter than the 45-minute runtime would have you believe. This being said, the song progressions and sequencing are totally on point throughout the album, making Nascido Sob o Signo Incivilizatório an immensely enjoyable record at every turn. The dynamics and melodies are top-notch and memorable, plus it’s as technically sound as it is arranged. It’s an extraordinary addition to an already stacked year of atmospheric black metal, but it’s all the more impressive when considering this is the second release from the project this year/ever. If these initial releases are any indication, Kaatayra is a name that will be hard to forget.