Kalopsia – Angelplague (2017)

New Jersey death metallers Kalopsia have returned with their third album, after having released a short EP (Sanguine Epitaph) back in 2014. According to one reviewer on Metal Archives, the band are fairly decent and have been awarded a 70% for both of their later albums. (The band’s 2003 debut Exquisite Beauty Of The Defiled remains uncovered. Maybe time for a reissue?) While I can’t say what the elite listeners over there at Metal Archives will have to say about this one, I can certainly say that I was enthralled by it. I believe I’ve been listening to this genre long enough to know what good death metal sounds like, and this certainly seems to be just that. Kalospia aren’t overly technical, proggy or invite clean vocals, but they do incorporate more than a few touches of melody within these pieces to make them stand out. It’s actually a bit similar to the last Suffocation record, which did quite well. The disc itself is more or less an EP-length performance, but it is one that I felt stuck with me. I wouldn’t ask for it to be any longer or shorter and it definitely worked as a fine accompaniement while I was getting ready for work.

The record begins with a gore-soaked groove monster called “Destined To Return” in which the band prove that they were definitely ready to come back and slaughter. The lyrics on this one are quite well thought out as well, bringing a sort of Lovecraftian/demonic vibe to the mix. I’ve always hated the fact that for some tracks in this genre, you more or less have to read the lyrics separately, as they can be tough to understand within the monstrosity of it all. Kind of kills the meaning behind the songs, I think – but even so, the performance in general is more than enough to keep your attention here. Loud, ruly and unhinged along with some breakdowns that actually feel necessary within the rampage. Matt Medeiros comes off like a jackhammer while Justin Spaeth proves that humans are still needed behind drumkits. He brings the right amount of umph to a performance that stands with one foot in the graveyard slabs of yesteryear, while the other stands in more modern approaches. I did hear some technicality and even a few riffs that brought to mind groove acts like Lamb Of God. Not so much in the “Lamb Of God” stole from these bands, but in the sense that Kalopsia may have been influenced a bit by Lamb Of God. Doesn’t really matter all that much in the long run, because both bands are pretty solid in my book. When we get to the slow-kill of “As The Serpent Devours” we are quickly reminded of the potency of that true death metal sound. You just don’t get it much with core and there’s no denying a slow-kill. Even with some slight core influences as appear in “Christened Upon The Slab” the performance still comes off incendiary due to all of the pure death metal that exists within this formula. A slight melodic lead attempts to come into the piece about three times, but Steve Hovarth doesn’t really get to chance to show off his melodic leads until near the very end. “Not Peace But Pestilence” approaches like a ravenous beast, ripping my face off in the process as it slowly switches gears from a slasher to that of a bass heavy pounder, where Mike Hussey shows his stuff. When Kalopsia wants to crunch, they Captain Crunch. When they want to groove, they turn the place into a blood splattered Saturday Night Fever-flavored dance floor. When they want to turn up the gears and create a sound that feels like your head has been attached to a diesel engine, the sound that they create becomes equivalent to Maximum Overdrive.

“Scorched Earth and Blackened Skies” nearly comes off like brutalized melodic death metal, which is also why it is one of my favorite songs on the disc. Most BDM acts just don’t fuck with melodies, and if they do it is never like this. But some of us do appreciate melody, especially when it melds in well with the vocals. A good chorus works well with the not-so-subtle attack that the band implement, and nearly seven minutes of playing time allows both sides of this spectrum enough space to be displayed properly. “Source Of Evil” feels very Cannibal Corpse which of course is expected, definitely hitting the groove-laden efforts of the band’s Corpsegrinder fronted groove-death era. I love late nineties Corpse, but I know that doesn’t bode true for everyone. This cut gives me a taste of that era again, so I’m happy with it. There’s also a solo featured, but it’s not all that memorable unfortunately. Even so, I’ll give them points for the attempt. “Surge Of Terror” felt quite similar to the last one, albeit the fact that it does have a good sort of solo-type thing near the very end. It’s also unfortunate that the track was cut off right towards the end of that piece, but there isn’t much I can do about that and I’ll accept it for what it is. The final piece is “Bitter Sacraments” which more or less gives us one final beating before the disc ends.

If you’re looking for a solid death metal with some neat ideas thrown in here and there, you might find something in Angelplague. I’ll admit that it was more than enough for me as far as just being a great overall death metal experience, but it isn’t the best death metal disc that has ever been created by mankind. Nor was I expecting a performance like that. Kalopsia have given us very much a WYSIWYG kind of perfomance here and I do not think that death metal fanatics will be bored of it rather easily. It does have some notable modernisms that might be a turn-off for some, but you can’t please everyone. I definitely think it is a strong performance that hopefully merits something a bit higher than a seventy this time around over at Metal Archives. Maybe a seventy-five or an eighty if we’re lucky. That would be my score for the disc, as it’s certainly far from a merely “decent” performance. Give it a listen and tell me what you think. Or don’t tell me, because no one ever does.

(8 Tracks, 35:00)

8/10

https://kalopsia.bandcamp.com

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