Nominated at the Gala GAMIQ in the “Best Metal Album 2019” category eventually won by “Angry Undead” by The Flaying and with Mixing and mastering at The Grid Studio by Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy, The Agonist, Beneath the Massacre, Beyond Creation) the sophomore album from Quebec Canada residents Karmatik is a critically acclaimed beast from May. Jean-Michel Audet (guitar), Carol Gagné (guitar and vocals), Martin Gagné (drums), Gino Rochefort (bass and backing vocals) chose the title “Unlimited Energy” and as four experienced and passionate musicians the promise “very powerful and melodic progressive death metal music, with haunting atmospheres combined with intense and explosive voices“.
As riff laiden opening tracks go, “Universal Life” is all that the press statement promises, including a euphoric set of Progressive Death Metal riffs with plenty of bark and bite unclean vocal lines from Carol Gagné. A couple of melodic breaks climb back up into sinister lead flourishes with some neat pitch and tempo changes return to the evil core sound add that headbang ability that is missing from more progressive sounds and brings the likes of Falluja to mind. “Tsunami Sanguinaire” has a similar flow been the melodic beauty of the Progressive sounds and the outright aggression of the all out Death Metal side and while the Canadians offer a different direction to them there is an obvious comparison with genre pioneers Between The Buried And Me within the walls of their sound. There is no fear of expression here and the seamless cross of sub-genres is masterfully done. “Black Sheep… Be Yourself” has a simple message. It’s safe to live your life in your style. A skull crushing track with some quirky little moments in the riff turn arounds that give it a wonderful chaotic feel, it’s a real stand out headbanger.
“Vautours Sans Scrupules” which loosely translates from French as “Vultures Without Honour” dives headlong into the dark pool of the bands heavier material, ignoring the light and shade of the earlier tracks to get it’s message across in a more straight up Technical Death Metal style. French vocals with plenty of big chugs and randomly ending with applause, it’s good fun. “Transmigration of Souls” brings back the Progressive elements, using them to create an atmospheric dynamic for the instrumental that is absolute class. The near constant lead work keeps you engaged in the way the vocals do on the other tracks and the summersaults between different riffs in a confined scattergun approach is lively and energetic. Title track “Unlimited Energy” flows between dark and swirling moods with great flow and occupies similar territory to Russians God Syndrome. A mid track melodic passage before the pull back into soaring riffs with a ripper of a solo is of the highest order and it’s those moments on this album that make it clear as to why this one is critically acclaimed.
Ploughing a new furrow in your creased brow while you bang your headbang “Defeat Or Victory” is about the narrow margins. Martin Gagné is a beast of a drummer and his metronomic mechanical performance on this one gives it a glorious industrial overtone alongside the chugging bass of Gino Rochefort. The oddest of the song titles as you read the track list is “Family Chaos“. As you might expect, this one is a much more personal cut lyrically but that doesn’t stop it from being a thunderstorm of riffs that keeps this gargantuan album flowing like a river to the sea. It’s another powerhouse performance all round and keeps the quality high. As with the previous track, “Cells In The Universe” is introduced by a spoken word surrounded by a whirlwind of pummelling kit work and swirling crushing riffs. Ending with one of the finest tracks on the album, there is absolutely no fat to be trimmed from anywhere on this one. From start to finish it’s thoroughly headbangable and lyrically engaging. Who could ask for more? [8/10]
Black Sheep… Be Yourself
Vautours Sans Scrupules
Transmigration of Souls
Defeat or Victory
As Cells In The Universe
“Unlimited Energy” by Karmatik is out now and available over at bandcamp