“We entered the straits in great fear of mind, for on the one hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Karybdis kept sucking up the water and vomiting it up. The spray reached the top of the cliffs and it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the men were at their wits ends for fear” – Homer’s Odyssey.
Well, you name yourself after something mythical that has that kind of power and awe associated with it and you’d better sound pretty fucking good. Fortunately, Karybdis don’t seem to have too much difficulty living up to their moniker.
This quintet of international musicians (based in London) have really stepped up from their debut EP and the songwriting here is the sort of well-crafted work you’d expect from a band hitting their stride on their third or fourth full-length.
This is a wonderful collision of death metal, classic galloping twin leads and hardcore pummelling that produces a sound that is rather unique. Shifting between the sort of powerful hook-laden charge that wouldn’t be out of place on a Trivium album into more complex, staccato riffing reminiscent of latter day Sikth, the groove is never lost despite the myriad time changes and melee of ideas at work. Karybdis prove themselves to be a band that is charmingly difficult to pigeon-hole, and bring to mind Turbid North in terms of their ability to present a schizophrenic range of influences that seamlessly blend together into one glorious whirlpool (there, I said it) of sound.
Many bands with this many ideas chucked into the hat create a wild hotch-potch of ferocity with no cohesion, but “From The Depths” works beautifully. The swirling, melodic sections and the frantic guttural bellows complement one another and build a solid structure that carries the entire album rather gracefully.
The lyrics range from the mythological oral panoramas of “Minotaur” and “Maelstrom” to some subtler more tongue-in-cheek moments such as “I Say” and the “did I really hear that?” surprises thrown up in “Without Wings”.
Musically they have stripped away all the fat and kept the songs a sensible length which may or may not be the influence of acclaimed producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Evile, Dimmu Borgir). The result is a tight, lean sound; bombastic enough to add depth to their music but nothing so overblown and meandering as to leave you reaching for the track skip button.
Sparing use of strings and keyboards provide smoother edges to some of the more jarring moments – a contrast that feels natural and adds warmth in sparing doses.
The name they picked is one synonymous with legendary ferocity, unstoppable force and stupefying depth. For a band this early in their career they have done incredibly well to match that. Without a doubt one of the finest debut albums you’ll hear this year.