Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 51:42
Review by Steven Hooke
Back in the early dystopian haze of the pandemic, Arizona four-piece Kardashev released their third EP “The Baring Of Shadows”, a crossroad of genres the band would label as “deathgaze”. Listening to the EP at that time, it felt like a difficult sound to put a finger on, as beautiful waves of post-rock washed over the versatile flurry of vocalist Mark Garrett, all the while musically shifting from searing blackgaze to blasts of deathcore, such a herculean task which is then met in the execution. Now the band have returned, nearly a year later, with the re-release, complete with instrumental versions of all four tracks, to celebrate their signing with Metal Blade Records.
Quite what Metal Blade can do to add to the sound of Kardashev is both terrifying and exciting. The production levels of “The Baring Of Shadows” are already of an insanely high quality, every aforementioned layer that becomes the Kardashev sound is clear, concise and compliments each other so effectively. When the full band comes in on a song like opener ‘A Frame. A Light’, it’s hard to think of a layer of the mix that can’t be picked out and isolated, right down to a fantastic, reverberating bassline from Alex Reith.
With the genre fluidity, a captivating vocal performance (essentially the best advert Mark could do for his Kardavox Academy vocal training business), and effective layering being amongst the highlights of the release, Kardashev stray into Devin Townsend territory quite deservedly. Particularly on ‘Torchpassing’, where Garrett’s vocal/drum duets with Sean Lang, the delicate twinkling’s from guitarist Nico Mirolla, and the occasional eruptions from the band as a whole feels indebted to the “Z² – Sky Blue” era of The Devin Townsend Project.
Closing track ‘Heartache’ feels like the cathartic release at the end, with the band’s deathcore side coming out in force and proud. Possessing the kind of slow, gradual, yet still blindingly heavy opening build that invokes latter-day Thy Art is Murder, ‘Heartache’ is, perhaps, the most literal example of the “deathgaze” moniker. A dirged blast of deathcore which is accentuated by the looming clouds of reverberated riffs, for that often-poignant shoegaze sheen, with the desperate cries from the subject of the lyrics, mourning for their lost lover to compound the song’s emotion.
Conspicuous by its absence in this review is sophomore track ‘Snow-Sleep’, which is by no means an oversight, but rather, saving the best until last. The EP’s second track had the distinction of being one of the most gorgeous songs of 2020, up there with the likes of Caspian, Creeper and Respire, and now a 2021 re-release means it can be in contention for one of the most gorgeous songs of this year too. A simply magnificent piece of music, blending prog, black metal, deathcore and post-rock into one symbiotic mesh of beauty and disaster, echoed in the lyrics that appear to deal with loss and punishment. The power in the band during choruses is astronomical, the call of “where have you gone?” could collapse a sun, it is somehow so empowering yet soul-crushing at the same time. The sheer temerity of Kardashev to have released this song at (hopefully) the book-ends of the pandemic is unreal.
The instrumental versions of each track certainly hold their own and will likely be of particular interest to those more invested in post-metal and blackgaze, but given what Garrett brings to the band’s sound, it feels criminal to leave him out.
Kardashev certainly feel like they’ve found their mark musically. While early tasters of “deathgaze” can be heard on the 2017 EP “The Almanac” – which in itself saw a huge development of sound compared to their prior release, 2015’s “Peripety” album – the jump in quality and composition into “The Baring Of Shadows” is astounding. This progression, alongside a newly-forged partnership with Metal Blade should make people very excited for album #2.
‘Snow-Sleep’ (Official Video)
01. A Frame. A Light.
05. A Frame. A Light. (Instrumental)
06. Snow-Sleep (Instrumental)
07. Torchpassing (Instrumental)
08. Heartache (Instrumental)
Mark Garrett – Vocals
Nico Mirolla – Guitars
Alex Reith – Bass
Sean Lang – Drums
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