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Katergon : Endless Life EP

An Avant-garde Odyssey of elaborate and intense naval doom.

The word 'katergon' is medieval Greek for 'galley' and is closely linked to the slave labour which propelled those ships, in fact it was that aspect of the word which the russians borrowed when they coined the term 'katorga' - which was their "free labour" system where they deported prisoners to penal colonies. But I digress. Let's return to the Greek naval vessel for it is the idea behind the band also named Katergon. A Swiss band no less! I do not know how who brought an obsolete, huge, wooden boat into the alps but this quartet claims to have had the misfortune of being "employed" on it in an equally obsolete manner. And afterwards they made their own musical Odyssey.

Now your imagination is probably presenting you with images of how to battle Poseidon with St. Bernards and lederhosen, but that is not exactly what they had in mind (although there woukd have been an undeniable entertainment value in that). Edge closer to Ahab and their massive whale-battling Doom/Death, or Roanoke whose Doom/Sludge sea serpents crash against the brittle hull, and you're getting close. This is particularly true for the title track with it's oppressive feeling of a storm at sea, men desperately warring against the raging ocean where a tie is the best outcome they could hope for. 'I Am the Sea' is a calmer tale which seems more in tune with everyday life oin the sea, then again it comes before 'Endless Life' and so it would not be far fetched to call it the calm before the storm.

Katergon employ a heavy avant-garde, if not outright experimental, approach to doom metal. Pleasant post-rock and sad ballads (both which remind me of 'In this Room' by The 3rd and the Mortal) collide with an intense and volatile Doom metal that reside somewhere inbetween its Death metal infused subgenre and its Sludgecore infused one, and sometimes the music also reaches for the faster metal genres when Doom metal was not enough to appropriately portray the wildness and chaos of the tale. But, again, it is still far from inaccurate to describe this as Ahab or Roanoke if they had been elaborated by the aforementioned other genres.

With releases that draw on highly diverse sets of influences and then attempt to needle and thread them together into the portrayal it desires, there are two possible outcomes: The successful merger where the shifts in the music feel meaningful, and the loose cannon that ends up as a senseless cacophony to the ears. 'Endless Life EP' is one such release and I, fortunately, find that the experiment has worked, somewhat. Admittedly, the threads of coherence which bind this work together are fewer than what one might have wished for, and so the EP lies close to the line which segregates the loose cannon from the success, and so there will be those whose ears will reject this based on incoherence. Luckily, it is easy to decide which category you fall into as the band has made both songs available on their Bandcamp page.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. I Am the Sea
2. Endless Life

Duration : Approx. 18 minutes

Visit the Katergon bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-04-05 by Arnstein H. Pettersen
Rotten Copper
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