Reviewed: November 2020
Released: 2020, Raging Planet
“No formulas, no lame choruses or catchy tunes!”
This is the boast that Portugese multi-instumentalist, Pedro Mau uses to describe Ailment – his latest releases under the Kneel banner.
He elaborates by placing an emphasis on dynamic guitar riffs and dissonant chords with harsh, heavy vocals being the building blocks from which Ailment was constructed. Mau summarises with a simple declaration that his new album is “loud and challenging.”
There is certainly no ceremony before getting down to business. A brief snippet of Patrick Henry’s, “give me liberty, or give me death” speech kicks off the contemporary crunch of Qualm – a semi-industrial chug that showcases Kneel as a striding force. Vocals are bellowed out by Mau’s special guest throughout the record, Filipe Correia, who sounds as fierce on this first track as he does throughout the album’s running time.
The mid-paced slam of subsequent tracks Awry and Interim pull me further into record. Looking for a sonic reference, it occurs to me that Ailment could actually be the soundtrack to a parallel universe where UK/Brazilian industrial thrashers, Nailbomb were fronted by Sepultura’s Derrick Green INSTEAD of Max Cavalera.
During these early tunes, Ailment doesn’t deviate from a steady muscular throb. Within their solid grooves Mau has an impressive arsenal of riffs which do a damn fine job of getting the neck to snap. However, there IS a creeping sense of formula that we were assured wouldn’t occur. Thankfully, right on cue, both Dys and Raptorial demonstrate Kneel DOES know how to use pace and tempo to dynamic effect. The former uses a slow, weighty delivery to evokes the sludge doom of Crowbar, while the latter whips up a moshpit as it accelerates into headbangers territory – a gear that the band also hit on the absolutely raging, Bellicose.
Drums syncopate around the brutality of Mau’s guitar, which are clearly the focus of this release. Textured and heavy, he peels off the riffs in a confident celebration of heavy music, all the while keeping the energy levels way up in the red – which is where the over-riding appeal of this release lies. Huge, energy filled, aggression set to a massive groove.
So turn it up.