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Australian metallers KUNVUK either have more money than sense or more sense than money. If the latter is true, as I suspect is the case, then they're going all out to get themselves noticed with their debut album which is encased in lavish packaging - an eight-panel, two-tray DVD digipak which houses both an album, an EP, and glossy 24 page booklet. It's way beyond the usual self-released effort and most certainly an attention grabber. However, all of that's just superficial in one sense as it's the music that's predominantly under critique here - do KUNVUK's songs grab the attention as much? On the whole, yes. Taking two years to record, guitarist/vocalist David Hart (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Devin Townsend circa-2004/05 in the photo included in the press pack) produced and mixed the album, and its 24 months well spent. While not flawless, the sound is immense for a self-financed debut offering. The drums have been particularly well captured, both resonant and clean, which provides the music with a solid backbone - possible one of the best bass drum sounds I've ever heard on a self-produced debut release. Composition-wise, KUNVUK are firmly in technical/prog metal territory with predominantly growled/screeched vocals, at times sounding like a less manic Sikth, and incorporating the occasional punk vibe (such as on 'Disquiet'). Sporadic instrumental interludes work well (industrial cacophony la 'Immute' and the down-tempo mellower 'Immure') but what the album could have done without is the truly awful first half of 'Jackals Feeding Children Feeding Buildings'. The track commences with some effective, reverb embellished clean guitar chords but then descends into what sounds like a totally different band - dissonant chords (which are dissonant as the guitar suddenly sounds slightly out of tune) are accompanied by some horrifically off-key clean vocals. Unless it's purposeful out-of-tune singing to match the out-of-tune guitar? If it is, and this was the band's intention, then it still falls completely flat on its face. It's a minor blip in an otherwise flowing album that's loaded with innovative songwriting and tech-metal ferocity. As for the EP, 'Jackals', it's apparently a "reconstructed, rerecorded and remixed version" of KUNVUK's demo release, 'The Gone Mekanik Anticipation Demonstration' with two additional tracks. I'm not sure as to the worth of its inclusion in this package although it does demonstrate how far the band have progressed between their earlier material and that on 'Immute'. If I was scoring on packaging alone then KUNVUK would easily rate ten out of ten. Alas, the music is not worth full marks but is still well worth checking out for all who like to be aurally challenged by their metal.
The Light of Damnation Records
Review by Mark Holmes
57:50 (album)
16th Sept 2010
DISC ONE (Immute): 1) Hypochondriac;
2) ...And No One Will Return My Calls; 3) While You Wait; 4) We Are The Virus; 5) Immute; 6) Osiris; 7) Jackals Feeding Children Feeding Buildings; 8) Frustrations of an Outsider; 9) Disquiet; 10) Immure; 11) Kill Boss Kill; 12) Where Orchidectomy and Mastitis Street Meet Is Why I Will Die
DISC TWO (Jackals): 1) Mouth-eater; 2) Shadow Mekanik Sun; 3) In Anticipation of Doom; 4) Immune (...and the Phone Rings Off Feeding Hook); 5) Gone
"...for all who like to be aurally challenged by their metal."