ALBUM REVIEW: Ascendancy – Kadinja

There’s something to be said for a post-djent world. Progressive metal has been the sorry victim of oversaturation in the last couple of years, and in more evident numbers than ever are the piles of once-unique and defined musical identities fading behind a seemingly infinite supply of groups that have seemingly based their sound upon dictionary definitions and Wikipedia summaries of genre politic. But one need not despair – despite the mounting daily knowledge that open-note grooves just don’t quite have that same filthy charm to them anymore – for, amongst the myriad of bands currently swimming in the gigantic, stagnant septic tank that is djent’s current state, is a fresh and promising addition that seems to be charging on in the wake of The Force Awakens‘ lucrative discovery that – to put it bluntly – stuff that was once awesome but became soulless and childish can once again become awesome again under the guidance of reboot mechanic. And, that seems to be just what Parisian progressive metal quintet KADINJA are trying to do: make djent awesome again.

It’s taken about a decade to decline. Ten years of perhaps one of the most interesting social experiments in music to date: what’s the worst that could really happen in turning an onomatopoeic joke into a fully-fledged genre? For the first few years following its advent, djent boasted a litany of talented acts, PERIPHERY, ANIMALS AS LEADERS, and AFTER THE BURIAL, to name but a relevant few, but, after a while, it almost seems as if most acts within the genre have lost their defining characteristics. However, fresh French faces KADINJA don’t seem to be doing much to challenge this assertion. They almost seem painfully aware of the dying days of their genre, and have taken the opportunity to inject it with some refined energy, evidently attempting to carve some semblance of artistry from a genre that was never supposed to be taken seriously, and succeed in a masterful fashion.

Ascendancy, despite being perhaps the most overused album title in metal history, boasts a huge catalogue of brilliant moments, from catchy hooks, to obscenely technical fretboard runs, to violent low-end grooves. Not only do the band apparently have a masterful knowledge of harmony and melody, but also possess natural inclination to addictive grooves. Tracks like Stone of Mourning, GLHF (featuring a solo from virtuoso Rick Graham), and the album’s closer, Seven (The Stick Figures), all display the album’s considerable strengths, and serve as enticing starting points for the polyrhythmic veteran.

KADINJA have apparently exploited a very unique situation in the release of their debut. After five years of growing tired of djent, it becomes an overwhelming relief to discover an act that exemplify all that can be loved in the genre. If it weren’t for that stagnation, that vast septic tank of boredom slowly eating into once fertile grounds, albums such as Ascendancy would not stand out as this. This is an album of sharp, clinical brilliance encasing an emotional journey of moving pieces, uplifting themes, and some of the most glorious rhythms ever conceived. If djent is choosing to make a comeback in 2017, this is a tough standard to be judged against. One almost feels sorry for the albums yet to release.

Rating: 9/10

Ascendancy - Kadinja

Ascendancy is out now via Klonosphere Records.

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