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Karybdis - Samsara


19th February 2016 – Self-released

01. Rorschach
02. Forsaken
03. Constellations
04. Ascendancy
05. Mermaids
06. Samsara
07. Summon The Tides
08. Monster
09. Avarice
10. Absence

London’s Karybdis derive their name from the mythological sea monster known for dragging ancient seafarers into their whirlpools. It’s a wonderfully metal band name, invoking mental imagery of ships plummeting into the deep and offers an indication of what lies in wait for the listener. Four years have passed since they released their debut album From The Depths, and now following a lineup adjustment, replacing the amicably departed guitarist Harsha Dasari with newcomer Matt Lowry, they have returned with a brand new offering called Samsara.

The metal pedigree of the band becomes evident almost immediately; opener “Rorschach” dives head first into blistering kick pedals, swirling riffs and – after the briefest of respites – the guttural raw screams of vocalist Rich O’Donnell. Clearly Karybdis have a great deal of influence which they channel into creating their own sound: newcomer Lowry and Pierre Dujardin combine intelligent songwriting with some stunning lead work, and the rich overdriven lead tone and phrasings are reminiscent of some of the best early 2000s “core” crossover bands like Darkest Hour and Unearth. There are also elements of death metal and groove throughout, evident in particular on “Ascendancy”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Gojira record.

There are even more diverse elements than just metal on display on Samsara however; the 70s blues rock-inspired opening to “Mermaids” offers a brief interlude from the carnage surrounding on all sides. They also make intelligent use of string sections to provide variation to their work; “Summon The Tides” displays the workings of a band that are very comfortable and knowledgeable with orchestration and it’s a real feather in their cap.

Vocalist O’Donnell has clearly grown into his role in the four years since their debut album and he stamps his authority on the album with aggression and menace. Lines are delivered with a visceral energy that demands attention; even when competing against other equally clear and well-performed elements of the album, his staccato, fast-paced delivery stands out. He even has a fetching new hat – presumably the old furry one disintegrated from sweating on stage.

The rhythmic duties fall to Mitch McGugan on drums and Jay Gladwin on bass, and together they provide the glue that keeps all the different elements of the band in cohesion, and given the complexity and diverse influences, melding all of these together is no mean feat. On tracks such as “Constellations” the gentle opening of the song flows into a pulverising riff fest thanks to the steady precision of McGugan’s kick pedals. Conversely, on tracks like “Avarice” the responsibility for kicking off the song falls to an enjoyable fill that is followed by some very intense yet bouncy thrashy drums. It is this fluidity that sets the band apart from many of their peers. Karybdis understand how to vary their own tempo and thereby add serious weight to their groove-oriented sections and their outrageous lead guitar parts. Similarly the fluid lead guitar-work is always underpinned by the well placed bass grooves adding an extra dimension to the guitar attack.

Karybdis are here to make a serious statement to the UK metal scene. With songs that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Lamb of God record, with the musicianship to match, their already-honed live ability means this could be the time for Karybdis to swallow up the scene into their own personal whirlpool.

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