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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review: Kinnefret - The Coming Of Age

Kinnefret, which means ‘Hate grudge’, is a relatively young band, based in Oakland, California, US. Originally formed in 2011 by Artak Ozan as a three-man-outfit, they went through a handful of line-up changes to end up as the quartet they are nowadays. The complete line-up at the moment, besides Artak Ozan on lead guitar and vocals, consists of Chelsea Rocha as vocalist, Aryan Pakkhoo on drums and Arses Ariamanesh on bass. Kinnefret plays melodic death-thrash metal with distinct oriental, or more specific Persian, folk influences, which is not surprising considering the fact the roots of three of the four members are embedded in the Middle East, in Iran to be exact. After releasing a demo EP back in 2012 they now, after completing the aforementioned line-up changes, released their first full length debut, suitably called ‘The Coming Of Age’.

Despite the fact the current line-up hasn’t been together for too long, in fact, Chelsea joined in 2014 and bass player Arses, who flew all the way from Iran to join, has only been a member since 2015, Kinnefret has already developed a very mature sound. If I hadn’t read it in the accompanying bio I would never have guessed they have only been playing together since a year or so. They probably have been practicing their skills with their respective instruments/vocals for a long time, and if anything, skilled they are. Chelsea has a throat many (male) colleagues will envy, her at times rasping, maniacal grunts are magnificent, especially in combination with Artak’s deep, massive growls. Artak’s guitar work, like his vocal work, is impeccable. He is equally at ease playing a thumping riff at high speed as going completely bananas on the strings, creating plenty of surprising angles throughout the album. Aryan’s drum work is breathtaking at times both speed- and rhythm wise, torturing his kit like there’s no tomorrow. Sadly the bass lines are a bit soft in the mix. It has nothing to do with Arses’ skills, the man truly knows how to handle his strings, I suspect it’s simply the mix itself that forces them into the background. A bit too much to my liking, however it is only a minor disturbance in an otherwise awesomely composed piece of music.

The album kicks off with the mandatory intro, hopefully purposefully unoriginal called ‘The awakening’, which in no way prepares you for what you are about to experience next. The moment the intro ends the first song, ‘Victim eyes’, blasts from your speakers, marking the start of a relentless 40-minute expedition through death- and thrash metal land in which the guys and girl from Kinnefret make sure you visit every possible corner of the two. Multiple times. The riffing and overall speed of ‘Victim eyes’ is relatively straightforward and not very surprising, making it the perfect introduction to this album. Accompanied by the screams and grunts of both Artak and Chelsea, the opener gets you in the right mood for a good game of old-fashioned head banging.

And that is just as well, because even though things are way more unexpected in the other songs on the album, one thing they have in common is that they will all make you move your head, no matter how hard you try to resist, which is quite pointless when you listen to this type of music anyway. The next song, called ‘Losing grips to gain grips’ unmistakably gives away the band’s oriental roots in the intro, only to knock you off your feet with an overwhelming wall of thrash after a minute or so. That pretty much describes the album, gentle, soft sounds that could easily put you to sleep explode into waves of noise capable of blowing everyone’s socks off, creating a musical journey like a roller-coaster ride. There is no way to describe each song individually, simply because I could never translate the experience into plain words. This is one you really have to experience for yourself to form your own judgement. I will, however, recommend my favorites: The insane ‘Losing grips to gain grips’, the powerful ‘Salvation’ with a relentless drum line and the all bases covering ‘The prophet’. As far a death/thrash metal releases go Kinnefret’s ‘The coming of age’ is up there with the best of them.

Written by Henric van Essen

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