Kaal Akuma

Far be it from me, sequestered in my safe space of Western white male patriarchy, […]
June 11, 2023
Kaal Akuma- Turiya album cover

Far be it from me, sequestered in my safe space of Western white male patriarchy, to pass judgment on the living conditions of another country, much of which can be placed at the feet of my arrogant ancestors; however, Dhaka does not seem to be along the socio-economic lines of Gothenburg or Tampa.  And much has been written about the ties between the geography of a place and the scenes it produces, and death metal has often sprung up in odd places, like a festering pile on the perfect ass of a supermodel.  It's there to show us that all of us are just piles of meat in the end, no matter where we come from.  With places outside the western frame of reference, however,  that pale-white epidermis has been peeled back, and no matter where you go, you're staring at the blood and guts of humanity.  You are stuck, knee-deep, mired down in the pathetic morass of existence. Bengali band KAAL AKUMA have sprung up from the bowels of Central Asia to drag us through the metropolitan entrails of Bangladesh, wiping the shit-covered entrails from our eyes, ears and mouths.  What we are about to see isn't pretty: it's the fucking ugly face of geopolitics, of human sacrifice and inequity, all wrapped up in twenty minutes of blistering, mind-melting old school death metal. This is crucially important metal, and it's performed at such a high level its efficacy is mind-blowing.

Their 2021 release "In the Mouth of Madness" was a serviceable slab of old school death metal, conjuring up elements of IMMOLATION and HATE ETERNAL in its no-nonsense delivery of straight up misery.  Interspersed with tempered moments of doom and sludge, the album was the work of three guys who were honoring those who left the trail of bodies behind them.  While it wasn't particularly ground-breaking, "In the Mouth of Madness" was more about digging the mass grave deeper as opposed to starting a brand new one.  In this way, the album did its job, even if it would be quickly forgotten as more, fresher kill piled up on top of it. "Turiya" is like a new hole burrowed into the ground by using the bones from the bodies in the next-door mass grave as makeshift tools, both for murdering and digging. Like newer American death metal acts BLOOD INCANTATION and CATTLE DECAPITATION, KAAL AKUMA have subtly twisted the myopic vision of most old school death metal bands into something just slightly twisted enough to see them standing in a world of their own.  It's still a shit-stained, blood-covered world, but this is shit and blood is uncured and pure.  The fact that it's coming out of a country mired in poverty makes it that more poignant.  While the American bands I mentioned are ready to bludgeon you over the head with a baseball bat, and know all the key body-points to keep you just on the edge of death and in maximum pain, KAAL AKUMA has a broad sword covered in the blood of millions. Everyone is a victim, and this blood is what fuels the torturous song-writing that abounds within these tight twenty minutes of death.

The first two songs "Ego Death" and "Tiyanak" are just massive, unforgivable death metal assaults.  The EP starts off with a single tom hit before just blasting off into faster than light riffing and pinched notes that squeal like a pig with its neck slit. Intricate riffing matches drummer Ah Puch's blackened blast beats, while bass player Rivoo screams over it with IMMOLATION-like guttural growls. Akif's guitars are dragged through the sonic mud, drenching the rhythm section like tendons, ligaments and muscles stretched across the skeletal morass. For a three-piece, this is a massive sound, and would be pretty thrilling to see them pull off live, particularly in some malarial-infested pseudo-swamp in the slums of Dhaka. "Tiyanak," like all good death metal hyper-focused niche-oriented subjects of horror, is about  the Filipino myth of the abandoned child Tiyanak, a baby who cries in desperation in the jungle.  Anyone who comes to find the baby meets it's bloody fate, as it will metamorphosize into its demonic being and rip your fucking guts out.  Let screaming babies lie, as they say.

The album highlight, however, is the 8-minute opus "Ignorance is Bliss" that closes the EP.  It's wildly ambitious, with rhythmic nuances that keep the listener constantly on edge, as if perched on the precipice of the mass grave.  The vocals growl and heave, drenched in reverb and delay, sounding like the very bowels of Satan himself, the embodiment of evil. Ah Puch's drums are an insane combination of death metal intricacy and fuck-it-all black metal abandonment.  It's like being pushed and pulled by an army of zombies, and you can feel the tendons and muscles and bones being stretched until you are ready to be ripped to shreds.  It's a relentless onslaught that continues for six minutes, until collapsing, exhausted, into the doom-inspired outro.  These eight notes, a single string being picked, repeat until the song fades out into a mist of decay.  It's a brilliant display of the creative heights that death metal is still able to meet.

KAAL AKUMA has created a three-song display of death metal power that is going to be hard to top this year.  It was smart to release it as an EP; if anything, a lot of death metal collapses under its own power after forty five minutes or so, and the Bengali trio has avoided this fate. The mystery of the band is wrapped up in their own existence.  How does music so intense and dark come from a place that has no room for this type of creativity?  How does KAAL AKUMA manage to maintain this dark, evil vision  with no "scene" in which they can slither and hide with kindred lost souls? What they've done is shared their own version of misery with the rest of the world in a language we can all understand: the punishing blast beats, grating growls, pummeling power chords, and belaboring bass notes of old school mother-fucking death metal.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Turiya" Track-listing:

1. Ego Death
2. Tiyanak
3. Ignorance is Bliss

Kaal Akuma Lineup:

Ah Puch- Drums
Akif- Guitars
Rivoo- Bass, Vocals

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