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Calligram - Askesis album art


24th November 2017 – Basick Records

01. Della Mancanza
02. Sinking Into Existence
03. Scourge
04. Murderess
05. Entwined
06. Lament

‘Askesis’ is the practice of severe self-discipline or self-control – something it’s becoming increasingly clear a number people don’t have even a little bit of. In music, these are also important qualities; whether manifesting as practice, preparation (for shows or going into the studio), or the wisdom to show restraint when appropriate, it’s necessary to cover these bases to make a great record.

Conversely, curtailment of…well, pretty much anything is not exactly a hallmark of hardcore, and even less-so when it’s blackened, gnarly and shrieking variety; nothing quite says ‘letting it all out’ like screaming until you’re folded crisply in half at the waist with your nose touching the floor.

That’s all well and good in terms of catharsis, but it’s all the better when tempered with the discipline to provide a little more texture than a rusty saw-blade. Enter Calligram, whose new record certainly makes strides to inject their fury with something a bit more cerebral. Askesis indeed.

From the off it’s much like you might expect given the genre tag, but it’s done very well regardless. You’ve got the thunderous, caterwauling and generally caustic angle of properly cantankerous blackened hardcore, but what’s nice – or I guess commendable, as none of this is especially ‘nice’ – is that Calligram give themselves time to really open up their exploration of the sound. Four of the six tracks are of an ample length to explore their ideas fully; be it the tempo slow during opener “Della Mancanza” or the atmospheric, post-metal mid-section to “Sinking Into Existence“, which lends a Cave In-like texture to the record. Sections like this are especially important for a number of reasons: to break up the dense, ferocious template, and to inject a little memorability at the same time. If nothing else, you can map your progress through the record with these deviations, but the character it adds to the music is palpable.

Closer “Lament” takes us deep down the rabbit hole. 8 minutes of brooding malignance, heralded by Matteo Rizzardo’s sparse, strained screams. The ensuing mesh of chunky, deliberate riffs, rolling bass and elegantly simple drums is a classic example of a ‘builder’: each pass adds more elements, or more weight to the track, and it’s an appropriate end to the record.

There’s much here to be proud of. Calligram have a properly gnarly sound, and can shift between hell-for-leather aggression and shadowy menace on a dime. It’s the expansive inclusions across the Askesis that really push it above and beyond, and most importantly give it a real replay-ability factor. Absolutely perfect for these darker months of the year.