Seemingly named after a Japanese term for “world of spirits, Hell” which is a common term in Japanese animation (anime, manga or whatever the fuck you cartoon geeks call it :)), Chico, California’s THE MAKAI take no time at all in attempting to welcome you into their version of hell. Galloping out of the gate, the first track “Gotterdamerung” is a Thrash-cum-Death battering with some melodic underpinnings as a side dish. Being their second album, and first on a label, “The End Of All You Know” is a slick, polished and stylish foray into the spheres of manic Metal with Thrash touches throughout.
Now I’m normally no fan of screaming vocals, but I think I may have figured out it isn’t the screeches themselves that got on my tits. No, I realize now that the screams more commonly found in Metalcore are, in that genre, almost always followed at some point by the singer trying to channel his best Tom Jones. That doesn’t work for these ears. I mean, I love PIG DESTROYER and bands of that ilk so screaming obviously is okay in certain contexts. The positive aspect of THE MAKAI’s vocals is that they are accompanied by a very well executed guttural voice behind them. “The Hound Of Hades” blasts off with one of the coolest Thrashy riffs I’ve heard in ages; a hearkening back to a Speed Metal age when you could feel the force of the guitars race by. What the song also shows off is the band’s pretty solid technical chops as well. Nifty little melodic taps and breaks with a galloping ending that will get your old school pulse racing, no doubt. All of these elements really won me over as after my first listening, perhaps not an attentive one, I had pegged THE MAKAI as a run of the mill Metalcore band. Hell no! These cats bring a much more complex assembly of Metal with them, and importantly also don’t revert to any of the ubiquitous break downs that have become Metalcore’s signature (not to mention the invitation to the young ‘uns to carry on with that daft as hell kung-fu type dance thing they do…STOP THAT SHIT!)
A song like “The 10th labour Of Hades” displays some of the band’s Hardcore background just a wee bit: guitar chords sliding up and down with speed but not any direct rhythm or melody, yet they work with the latter speed picking the song finally reaches. I really have come to enjoy the odd diversity and solid writing this album has to it. “Sedna’s Tale” is another fine piece of work, commencing with a razor sharp, tearing guitar riff that grabs your nuts and then brings you along for the rest of the song’s ferocity and melody.
Make no mistake either; “The End Of All You Know” is heavy, not just fast. During some tempo changes along the way are deep crunches and slower swaying movements. A mean, slashing outing is “The End Of All You Know”, and while it and the band may not be Hell, they sure make a case for Purgatory.
(Online August 13, 2007)