Reviewed: [July 2020]
Released [2020 Iron Bonehead Productions]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Take vintage Voivod and mash it up with old Behemoth, and you’ve got the rough and tumble but futuristic prog/death/black metal – and affiiniity for curiious spelliing! – of German odd-balls Khthoniik Cerviiks in something of a nutshell.
The trio’s second album echoes the otherworldly thematics and increasingly progressive leanings of Voivod’s Killing Technology-Outer Limits era, with the raw, pummeling sound and freaky artwork of War And Pain and Rrröööaaarrr, all delivered with the vehemence and blackened fury of Behemoth a la Demigod – especially in bassist/frontman Okkhulus Siirs flame-throwing vocals. Sandwiched between the electronic/robotic “KC Exhalement 4.0” intros and outros, Æequiizoiikum offers a sprawling, often epic tumult that, despite its somewhat obvious influences, is quite unique and unconventional in its composition and clearly determined in its execution.
Over the jog-and-blast drumming of Gharmonboziia, guitarist Khraâl Vri*ïl churns out a shape-shifting cascade of frantic trems, angular shrills, teeth-clenched grind and the occasional surprisingly melodic wash, as on the title track or the colossal “Δt (Recite The Kriitiikal Mæss),” the album’s nearly 9-minute centerpiece. His versatility here is matched only by his stamina, as the main body of material averages about six minutes per track with very little let up. It can make for an often exhausting listen, so I can only imagine what it must be like to play.
“Bloodless Epiiphany (Délire des Négations Sequence 2.0)” is really the only track that is built around anything approaching mid-tempo, and even here it careens off at breakneck speed just when it seems to settle in to a comfortable groove. Indeed, although it’s the shortest of main tunes, at four minutes, it’s perhaps also the most complex in an album full of challenging arrangements, with a lot of that reserved for brief burst that come and go.
The tenacious bellow of Siirs, sometimes coupled with or countered by the gruff, shouty “harmonies” of Vri*ïl tie things together with undeniable authority, even on weirder tunes like the elliptical “Odyssey 3000” that effectively opens the album as the intro wanes. A distinctive “center” is something this kind of abstract material demands, and these guys deliver in spades, ensuring the songs never lose their focus or viciousness no matter what direction – or dimension – the music takes them.