KARTIKEYA passed me by without a trace with their new release of 2011 entitled "Mahayuga". It's not every day I'm permitted to indulge in Death Metal which has enough of a unique edge to be considered groundbreaking. Whilst I wouldn't quite say this applies to the bands follow up to 2007's 'The Battle Begins', I'm certain that fans of Neo-Thrash/Prog-Metal masters MESHUGGAH or blasting Death in the style of HOUR OF PENANCE will find something different enough here to be very satisfied with this release.
The epic length of the album supports its similarly epic context which draws heavily from Middle-Eastern folklore. This will come of no surprise to followers of the band, however this blending of styles doesn't feel as forced or unnatural as it did in their previous album, especially now there's no longer any Black Metal to be heard. KARTIKEYA have now settled nicely into a lush and brilliantly produced sound which carries itself from track to track with a mysterious elegance. As you might have guessed, the Death Metal sections are sandwiched between finely textured instrumentals which perform admirably in preserving the albums character. However those of you who feel no warmth towards this brand of Metal may not be so keen.
Highlights of the album include "Fields of Kurukshetra" which features a number of excellent riffs and a noteworthy orchestra-accompanied breakdown. "The Path" demonstrates a more proggy approach with a clean-sung chorus and eerie instrumental breaks. Despite a few less memorable songs like "Surya Jayanti" sporting an odd time-signature which serves to damage more than enlighten and the frankly baffling Shakira cover that's on there, "Mahayuga" is a great Modern Death Metal album which boasts great quality, enthralling melody and a refreshing spin on a genre which often suffers from tiresome methods and delivery. If continuing in this fashion, KARTIKEYA's next release is certainly something to look forward to.
Note: Listen out for the depth-charge dropped at 0:08 on "He Who Carries the Head of Brahma". I love those.
(Online March 15, 2012)