‘Deathgaze’. That’s the term that Kardashev have described themselves with. It’s pretty accurate, and it can be understood as an ethereal mix of doom metal, death metal, and deathcore, maybe? It’s rather silly to try and pin down the latest EP, “The Baring of Shadows” by attributing names and genres to it. This is probably why the band went with the overarching label of deathgaze. It’s a mix, but ultimately, it’s gorgeously heavy. “The Baring of Shadows” is an 8-track EP that spans just over 50 minutes. In reality, there are only 4 tracks on this album, but the band has provided us with an instrumental version of each song, also.

The four tracks on this EP are a huge atmospheric endeavor from Kardashev. It’s euphonic through and through, but despite the resonance and harmonious sounds, there are some truly heavy and destructive moments. In four tracks, we’re treated to a relatively diverse listening experience that revolves around a central musical theme of beauty. There is no fear from the band in letting certain sequences and sections stretch on for a prolonged period of time. Kardashev wants to engage you completely. They want to get you lost in the moment, slowly removing the ground beneath your feet and letting you float across the melodies. The same kind of feeling is elicited in tracks such as “Glow from the Edge” from Mariana’s Rest. Those big soundscapes just render you weightless.

In some instances, however, you’re thrown around in some colossally chaotic moments. It’s like Niagara Falls. It’s torrential, it’s a massive and terrifying force of nature, but it’s incredibly beautiful in its raw power. Opeth is well-known for some similar ideas, mixing death metal with other genres like folk and jazz, and Kardashev have taken it upon themselves to execute something quite special in this likeness. “Snow-Sleep”, the second track from the EP, is home to some blistering death metal sequences and it’s quite impressive to hear how the band transitions from angelically dormant sections to crushing metal riffs. The melodies themselves aren’t overly original, per se, but they’re moulded and emphasised in a way that fits with the band’s intentions and the personality they want to exhibit in “The Baring of Shadows”.

Despite the presence of a huge soundscape in this EP, I found it important to use good speakers or good headphones to experience it. The mix on this EP is great, and when played with capable speakers, each instrument stands out clearly and fairly without encroaching on the space of the other instruments. However, I did find it a shame that the vocals were a little low in the mix. I can understand that if they were to be brought up in the mix, it could take the focus away from the big atmospheric displays and put the focus on just one member. But even just a bit, just a little bit higher in the mix would have allowed the listener to fully appreciate Mark Garret’s vocals.

Whilst we’re on the subject of vocals, it needs to be said that Garret has an incredible voice, in both the clean and harsh fields. It’s no surprise that he spends his time on YouTube analyzing innumerable vocalists and their techniques. Kardavox Academy is his channel, and it’s well worth a watch.

His rough vocals are intense and powerful, and they’re placed perfectly throughout the album, with no appearance feeling out of place. There is a huge variance in the styles, as well. I appreciated that it wasn’t just a one-dimensional growl in the heavy moments; it was interesting to see what type of growl Garret was going to hit us with next. “Heartache”, the last track on the EP, contains some truly dominant growls, bringing about thoughts of CJ McMahon from Thy Art is Murder.

The clean vocals are equally impressive. They let out warm and tremolo-laden melodies of confidence throughout “The Baring of Shadows”, whilst still having some quite diverse moments here and there. Garret lets out whispery falsetto tones in “Torch Passing”, wavering over the instruments and it’s almost as if Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros appeared to do a guest vocal spot on the track. Other moments have Garret singing straight from the chest in a powerful melody that adds to the cinematic sequences. We’re even treated to an a capella-style moment during “Snow-Sleep”, and interesting change of pace during the track.

The instrumental realm of “The Baring of Shadows” is as stunning as it is dense. The guitars are layered heavily in some moments, but then stripped back to really create some distinction when it’s needed. The tones are clear, really helping to ensure that the melodies strummed during the heavier moments aren’t lost or muddled in the mix. Nico Mirolla knows how soft or hard to play certain sections, and it seems that he adds to the symbiosis that is being displayed by the rest of the band. The soft guitar melodies during “Snow-Sleep”, especially when the drums are still playing a fast and technical rhythm, stand out massively and they especially add to the delicate clean vocals parts. Other times, like in the beginning of “Heartache”, the mix of clean and distorted guitars lead you in like a snake charmer. They’re elusive and lull you into a state of apprehension before dropping you into arguably the heaviest section on the EP. It’s also great that the bass guitar is heard quite a lot on this EP. Alex Rieth can be heard in some soft sections of “A Frame. A Light”, playing his own unique melodies and adding some substance to the otherwise potentially stagnant moments.

It feels as though Sean Lang had a massive blank canvas to work with on this EP. Some atmospheric parts required nothing more from him than a standard rock beat, and he does just that with humility. Other times, such as just after the introduction to “Snow-Sleep”, we hear the talent he possesses, pushing out some hyper-speed kick drums and following up with his own special ideations to fill up the empty space between the technical riffs played by the guitars. The following two tracks also contain some truly impressive performances from Lang, and to me that makes the modest sections from him even better, because you know that he can perform some fantastic feats on the kit. The juxtaposing section to “Torchpassing” I keep referring to is an example of this. The intensity of the drums compliments the delicately played guitars incredibly well, and is a standout moment on the EP.

At the end of the day, it’s a shame that Kardashev only released 4 tracks this time around. With that being said, I’ll take quality over quantity any day, and can only hope that they get a full-length release to us as soon as possible. “The Baring of Shadows” is an expansive demonstration of how big and beautiful death metal can actually be. The diversity from all members of the band plays a big part in making this release entertaining, and despite the small number of tracks, the durations are mostly long, with “Heartache” being the only track under 5 minutes long. In these tracks, the band never overstay their welcome; it doesn’t get tiresome, nor does it get repetitive, so it’s safe to say that fans of Kardashev and new listeners who enjoy this style of death metal with have no issues playing the EP through a few times.

Released On: May 7th, 2021
Released By: Metal Blade Records
Genre: Deathgaze
Mark Garret / Vocals
Sean Lang / Drums
Nico Mirolla / Guitar
Alex Rieth / Bass Guitar
“The Baring of Shadows” Tracklist:
A Frame. A Light.

Review by Josh Muncke

Related Articles

Back to top button