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Akbal is a Mayan word and with '...Of Darkness and Light...' Cardiff based Akb'al the band have released a debut album which is as intriguing to listen to as the Mayan culture is to discover. If I was asked to describe that culture, in an easy to understand manner, I'm certain I couldn't and even though I have been asked to review this album, I'm not sure I'll truly be able to describe it either, but I will try my best!

Described as Progressive Rock/Metal (which is pretty misleading actually) Akb'al began back in 2006 when Michael Young-Temple (bocals, bass, tablas, djembe, didgeridoo and kaossilator) was completing a long period travelling the world. Brought up on Stoner and Progressive Rock, his travels and discoveries saw him introduce a wide variety of worldwide instruments and styles into his music. He took his ideas to Thoby Davis (vocals, guitars, violins) and Rob Miles (guitar, backing vocals, synths) and together the three further developed the songs. Needing a drummer to complete the lineup they contacted close friend and current Onslaught skin basher Michael Hourihan and their ideas developed further. Since 2010 the four have played throughout Wales, including several good support slots and have readied this album!

'...Of Darkness and Light...' mixes the aforementioned Stoner and Prog Rock & Metal with heavy doses of Alternative, Nu-Metal, Industrial, World Music and Psychedelic Rock, creating something very unusual and not an album that can be taken in with just a couple of listens. Containing seven tracks, ranging from the four minute opener '...Of Darkness' to the twelve minute closing instrumental soundscape 'Light', this release requires time, effort and imagination but, if you can do that, you will be rewarded. The melodies take time to burrow into your head, but once they do they don't go away and the mix of clean and, very weird, harsh vocals provide an odd marriage!

Akb'al are obviously very talented musicians and it takes a lot of guts to come up with an album of this nature when most people just want a collection of three minute throwaway songs to download. This needs to be consumed as one body of music and nurtured; it certainly isn't going to be something you listen to every day for your dose of cheese. The press release gives the obligatory list of influences and they include Tool, Kyuss, Alice In Chains, NIN, The Doors and Porcupine Tree. Now, while I can hear certain things that do reference all of those bands, to compare Akb'al to any of them is actually a disservice, because had I read that list in a magazine or blog, I would have passed. If you are a fan of truly progressive music, rather than just the word as a genre tag, and crave something a bit different then Akb'al might well be what you're looking for, and I'm very interested to see what they come up with next.
Review by Rick Tilley
10th Feb 2014
1) ...Of Darkness
2) The Ride
3) Totally Recalled
4) Equilibrium
5) Restless and Waiting
6) Pacha Mama
7) Light
"If you are a fan of truly progressive music, rather than just the word as a genre tag, and crave something a bit different then Akb'al might well be what you're looking for..."