1st May 2015 – Self-released
02. First Contact
04. The Earth Aflame
06. Huddled Masses
08. As The Planet Falls
If you’ve a mind for grind, you should be very happy to make the acquaintance of Canadian quartet Okazaki Fragments and their newly released debut album Abandoned.
Coming in at just under 25 minutes, it’s a record that doesn’t wear out its welcome. For something so relentlessly intense, that’s probably a good thing: much better to reach for the play button, hungry for another go, than getting bored halfway through and wishing the band had better quality control. Indeed, the razor sharp riffs of the eponymous album opener burst through the headphones and lodge themselves in your cranium, hoping to move in for good like that friend who’s become just a bit too comfortable crashing on your couch. The quality control is excellent, too; this album was either a time-consuming labour of love, or Okazaki Fragments just fit together like a four-piece jigsaw puzzle.
From the opening chords of “Abandoned” to the appropriately named “As The Planet Falls”, the album feels like an apocalyptic event. Rory and Viktor’s guitar parts are interesting and engaging, sounding like some bastard child of Ulcerate, See You Next Tuesday and Pyrrhon, and accompanied by Brian’s spastic blasts in between more groovy beats (my favourite kind of blasts), the bass – also played by Rory – is audible, and although it doesn’t get many chances to shine, it does its job and does it well. The overall mix gives each member the space his instrument needs to shine and coexist with the others. While this is definitely a record to listen to loud, it avoids causing fatigue during repeated listens.
Sean’s vocals are a varied bunch: from death metal gutturals to slightly more emotive shouts and shrieks, his variety fits well with the music and helps Okazaki Fragments avoid the monotony into which too many death metal bands fall. There’s a consistent intensity; there’s danger and vitriol in all parts of the album, but it also cleverly dodges the trap of monotony by changing things up constantly, keeping the listener guessing: around any corner there could be a slow groovy part, blast beats and cacophonous riffs, or anything in between – as long as it’s evil-sounding and heavy.
There’s even a certain level of brutality in the writing: parts are thrown out there and then discarded immediately, never to be used again. It makes the album feel hyperkinetic, but fortunately the riffs don’t feel rushed or disposable even if they are treated that way by the songwriting.
It’s all constructed in a way that will always make you long for one more listen, like an arcade game hungry for all your quarters, and if this is a genre that usually appeals to you, just remember this warning: while it’s not a groundbreaking release, it is an addictive one. Abandoned may be the album’s title but that’s not its fate; I for one will keep it by my side for quite some time.