1995 was a funny old year for metal. Slipknot formed, Accept disbanded (temporarily), and a new wave of heavy music was on the horizon. As the final embers of grunge died away, industrial and nu metal would both rise up from the ashes, taking the genre into new and exciting areas.
The mid-to-late 90's was also a time when some of these new ventures into metal would push the more traditional heavy bands onto the back-seat. A great many groups that dominated the world during the 1980's went back to the underground, while stupid rappers with silly red hats took their place singing about 'rolling'.
It wasn't all bad news, of course. Pantera, formerly a glam metal band, brought a heavy fist down on the radio-friendly sub-metal tripe that was infecting the airwaves and gained a great deal of respect for that. But they weren't the only ones....
1995 was also the year of Korotory. A band who, in their own words, were and are “the alternative to the alternative”. Much like Pantera, the emerged with a fresh sound inspired by the legends of old, but more extreme, and completely un-fazed by certain new movements within the genre.
For 6 years, Korotory would defend the faith and play gigs with bands as diverse as Hammerfall and Death, and releasing their debut album, 'Process of Elimination', before calling it a day in 2001. It wouldn't last. You can't keep a good band down, and in 2006, they returned from the grave, with a new bassist and a new, passionate fire raging within. Two more albums, 'Age of Rebellion' and 'God Less America' followed, along with more relentless touring and defending of the faith.
And that brings us nicely to Korotory's third studio album: 'Chapter III: The Conquering'. In this new age of metal, is it still acceptable to be the 'alternative to alternative'? Can a band that was born during a time when metal was almost lost to rap-rock still have something to offer? Any metal band can make big, sweeping statements about how they couldn't care less about the mainstream, and how they are true, pure metallers. But without the music to back these statements up, the band simply doesn't work.
Luckily, Korotory have the music. And it's heavier than a ton of titanium bricks. This is 'Chapter III: The Conquering'.
Chapter III: The Conquering
'Chapter III: The Conquering' lures you in with a suitably epic instrumental ditty titled 'Hell's Gate', with buzzing bass and classical piano chords, before the guitars come crashing in in unison, taking this short intro theme to its' peak before kicking straight in with 'Spineless'.
All of a sudden, the almost-power metal style melody of the opening track is bludgeoned to death by aggressive, thrashing riffage courtesy of guitar gods Chris Clemente & Matt Scriva. There's no let-up throughout as Ray Truhn screams like a man possessed, and Darren Markoff beats the shit out of his drum kit. Held together nicely by Brett Weatherston's sludgy bass playing, which holds its' own against the furious guitar soloing, 'Spineless' tells you everything you need to know about Korotory in one song. That they're fucking metal, fucking angry, and here to fucking stay. And slay.
The pace slows slightly for track 3, 'Conquering the Swine', thrash giving way to a slightly more death metal approach to begin with. The infectious riff hooks you from the off, complemented by some seriously pissed off lyrics roared out by Truhn: “You wanted a war, well you got a war!”. Once again, there is some lavish guitar soloing as the pace quickens mid-way through, as the band quickly flip from sludgy-death, to thrash, to NWOBHM in the space of just 3 minutes and 19 seconds. Not many would dare to carry off such a feat, but it pays off beautifully. This is a band that understand that melody and heaviness can exist together, which is where so many other extreme bands go wrong. I would say that 'Conquering the Swine' is a stand-out track on this record, simply because of the subtle diversity within.
'Absolute Zero' is another thrasher, Markoff's drumming powering the piece like the engine of a steam-train heading straight for Hell. There's also a strong Pantera influence presence here mid-way through, that goes nicely with the death-metal-esque solos and more raging anger from Truhn (listen to his roar 47 seconds in!). Once you think you get a handle on a Korotory song, they take it in a totally different direction without losing the essence of the track.
There is some let-up with 'Probing the Nether', a 94-second instrumental led by an incredible guitar solo and some nice bass noodling. It can be so easy to gloss over instrumental tracks, to disregard them. But it's these little slices of music that emphasize the talent Korotory has, the musicians free to let themselves go without restraint, before reigning in the more overtly-melodic tendencies for the 'proper' (for want of a better word) songs where heaviness is key. In short, 'Probing the Nether' is fucking beautiful.
'Ophidia' starts off with a wonderful sound-bite from a serial killer, a common and much-loved theme within metal. And then the song starts proper, and once again a host of different styles are present, from a bouncy thrashy main drive, to a nice black metal rhythm in the background, and another amazing guitar solo that kicks off at 1:12. Lyrically, the song is sound, dealing with insanity, murder, hatred, and schizophrenia, believably rasped by Truhn, between incredible bass and guitar solos that spring out of nowhere and texture the track with melody and awesomeness. The song fades out a bit too quickly at the end, I think due to the content of the tune it would have been better to linger a bit more on that final scream, but this little niggle aside – perfection! Another contender for favourite track, easily!
'Dehumanization' is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. Truhn not only rasps and roars, but also goes full-on death metal for some ugly as Hell cookie monster growling. The chainsaw guitars cut dangerously through the song, the melodic solos replaced with darker noodles, undercutting and complementing the razor-sharp riffs, whilst Markoff's infectious drum beat carries things through. Certain to be a favourite among death metal fans!
'Sanctified' goes back to the Pantera-esque groove with occasional blast beats that wouldn't be out of place on an Immortal album. Lyrically, this song is a call to arms - “I AM UNSTOPPABLE!”, an inspiring and empowering anthem of the sort that metalheads love so much. With a wicked chorus and killer drive, the only thing that perhaps lets this song down is the fact that it's so short. Another guitar solo in the middle would have given it a bit of something extra, maybe, but despite this, another tune to add to your list of metal anthems, alongside 'United' by Judas Priest, 'Motorbreath' by Metallica, and anything by Manowar!
And so finally we reach the end of the album, with closing track 'Rise' – a song I proudly blasted out on Heavier Than Time recently. Like 'Sanctified', 'Rise' is something of an anthem, a song about revolution and standing as one. Despite being the only radio-friendly tune on the album, it's still a heavy song. Catchy, yes, but relentless. The drums pound, the guitars crush, the bass rumbles, and the vocals soar. Korotory know this is the end of the album. And they want it to end with a bang so big you won't forget it in a hurry. And trust me, you won't.
In short, Korotory's latest record is an absolutely essential piece of listening. This is a band that take every single one of their influences, and utilise them without ruining the final effect. Every musician brings something unique to the table, with some of the best guitar solos I have ever heard, an unstoppable drummer, and a bassist so good it took me a few moments to realise that certain solos in the songs were actually bass solos! Truhn is an incredible vocalist, and the lyrics are full of anger, rage, and even hope.
Death, thrash, groove, NWOBHM, extreme, sludge, black metal – if you enjoy any of these musical genres, then Korotory will have something for you.
'Chapter III: The Conquering' is an apt title. Because with an album as good as this, Korotory will conquer. This is their moment!
- Conquering the Swine
- Probing the Nether
Ray Truhn – Vocals
Chris Clemente – Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Matt Scriva – Rhythm & Lead Guitar
Brett Weatherston – Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Darren Markoff – Drums
Chapter III: The Conquering
1. Hell's Gate
3. Conquering The Swine
4. Absolute Zero
For more information on Korotory:
www.reverbnation.com/korotory (free downloads)
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