Formed from the remains of industrial melodic death metallers Sybreed, The Erkonauts don’t quite make the kind of music that you might have expected. Originally this thing was released in 2014, but I sure as hell didn’t know about it and chances are, neither did you. Both of those 2014 pressings sold completely out and it’s easy to see why. First of all, the label (Kaotoxin) has these guys pegged as sounding like Primus, mid-90’s Suicidal Tendencies and The Offspring. But maybe someone over there must have not heard the black metal influence in “Tony 5” and the Emperor/Borknagar/Ihsahn inspirations particularly, which are painted all over it. These guys have always fucked with a bit of black metal, particularly on “Lucifer Effect” which is still one of my all-time favorite Sybreed tracks. Speaking of Sybreed, the band features former vocalist Ales Campanelli who also tackles the bass, along with their former drummer Kevin Choiral. Guitarists Sebastian Puiatti and Adrien Bornand are completely new, but are just as talented. These two definitely command catchy grooves amidst the industrial feel that still manages to exist somewhere within the confines of this formula. This being said, there is definitely some catchy blues to be found here as the leaflet claims, and it’s quite like what you might expect from a band like Clutch or Down. I Did Something Bad really is a mixed bag, so you never know what to expect.
Right now I’m listening to a toe-tapper by the name of “Nola” but just before that came the rather sappy (but keep in mind this is coming from the same band who wrote “Next Day Will Never Come”) “All The Girls Should Die.” Out of most of the tracks here, that one seems to resonate with me the most and I’ll no doubt add it to my personal play list. If we keep listening, we’ll run into the High On Fire/Superjoint Ritual influenced “Dominium Mundi” which also seems to toy around with darker territory just a bit. It also works to remind me a lot of mid-era Gojira. Rest assured, the piece certainly doesn’t sound “silly” and instead seems a little more heartfelt, albeit gut-wrenching. But that’s just the kind of musical passion I’d expect from Campanelli and I’m really glad to see that that hasn’t changed. When I first read the press release for this one, I almost choked a little. I was a bit worried that perhaps the guys would take it a little too comical with songs like “The Great Ass Poopery” and in the process end up killing what they really do best. Yet I am aware that this isn’t Sybreed and it should stand as a replacement for what that band meant to me. Nevertheless, I’m really glad that what I remember and love most about Sybreed is still here in The Erkonauts, just flavored a bit differently. It works and I personally enjoy it.
When we get into “Hamster’s Ghosthouse” which also takes on a slightly darker approach, I’m again reminded of the power in such an act like this. Take the use of the thick Gothic organs mixed in with the proggy Pink Floyd inspired blues on this same track, and you’ve got a noteworthy act from the start. I don’t think it’s necessary to discuss the entire album and spoil it for those who haven’t heard it, but I will talk a little about the bonus tracks, as they are exclusive to this version of the album. The first one of these we have definitely feels a little more robotic, as such it is titled “Machine.” There will also be a video for this one upon release of the album. As for the song, it almost feels like a Sybreed cast-off with a much different vocal approach. We could compare it to something from Fear Factory or Gojira. The second song is actually quite long and feels like maybe something from Godflesh with a cleaner vocal approach. You could compare it to Killing Joke, but I think it’s too slow of a number to tie it to Fear Factory again. But when I even utter the words, “Killing” and “Joke” that should be enough to already get you interested. In the end, both tracks are actually really good. They both stand out on the disc and are not mere filler. I actually feel kind of bad for those who bought the earlier version of this record, because these tracks are very good and it seems a little unfortunate that they have to buy the record again to get a copy of them. The band really should have just held out to put these on another record. It would have been worth the wait. If you don’t already have the DIY pressings, then please go pick up this album, especially if you like Sybreed, sludge, post metal, groove and acts like Fear Factory, Gojira and The Killing Joke. As the leaflet said, there are some silly moments here, but there’s more passion and conviction than comedy. I like the sound of that. It almost feels like ending Sybreed was the best thing these guys could have done, because The Erkonauts just feels far more inventive and tasteful. I felt that the final Sybreed album, God Is An Automaton really said it all and that The Erknonauts are a necessary evolution. Let me know what you think.
(11 Tracks, 54:00)