REVIEW: KODIAK – 80 Years Without Slumber [EP/2015]


Artist: KODIAK 

Album: 80 Years Without Slumber – EP


A black film covers the earth. Starting as small pools in the planet’s nooks and crannies, an acrid sludge swept the planet in what felt like overnight. Now, every life form in earth’s bountiful bouquet of ecosystems rests trapped—not quite dead, but barely alive—in a state where they can neither rest nor resist their captor. They can only stay suspended in a state of exaggerated awe at the majesty and marvelously murky experience within 80 Years Without Slumber, the debut EP by St. Louis sludge-turned-downtempo-deathcore juggernauts, KODIAK. Brutalizing the listener with atmospheric bouts of metallic aggression blended with brutalizing, bone-bending breakdowns, 80 Years Without Slumber is a combination of anger and atmosphere that borrows from a broad spectrum of metallic influences to entrance the listener.

KODIAK drown the listener in dissonance from the very first note of 80 Years Without Slumber. Half lumbering, crushing sludge and doom metal, half straightforward and skin-peeling heavy hardcore blended with downtempo deathcore, this devastating duo add a fresh twist to heaviness that will appeal to crowd killing mosh warriors and headbanging audiophiles alike. Enormous drums that can be booming one moment and blisteringly quick the next work side by side with winding, filthy bass to drive along KODIAK’s manic, unpredictable guitar. All courtesy of instrumentalist Alex Dickmann, each moment of the EP’s instrumentation—be it the long, languishing portions of droning dissonance on “Black Tar and the Ease of Death” or the raunchy breakdowns defining “Trudger”—is carefully crafted to be heavy in ways that defy stereotypes or monotony. Dickmann’s guitar is especially well tuned to this aspect of KODIAK’s intent: his riffs are sharp enough to slice skin cleanly from muscle and bone, while his slams, chugs and dry, arid atmospheric aspects are heavy enough to turn bones to dust and intense enough to burn away the listener’s remains. Dickmann is a dam holding back reservoirs of heaviness copious enough to drown any enthusiast of extreme music—which is exactly what he does.

With a cavalcade of crushing instrumentation tumbling down on the listener’s neck like an avalanche of steel and lead, KODIAK’s debut release would be nothing but a meager cub without a commanding vocal presence—and fortunately for KODIAK, frontman Matt Washausen is far from a cub. More akin to an enraged sire (that’s a daddy bear) than anything, Washausen dominates 80 Years Without Slumber with a vocal range as gritty and diverse as Dickmann’s instrumentation. Every track Washausen lets loose his thick, meaty yell upon is a brilliant example his prowess—but “Trudger” is an instance where his efforts truly shine. “Trudger” is Washausen embodying a picture-perfect blend of sludge metal roars and throat-tearing growls, allowing his shouts and screams to flow smoothly over the dynamic musical canvas Dickmann’s provides.

If you’ve been tiring of contemporary downtempo deathcore—overproduced, overhyped but short on intelligent material—then KODIAK have an EP that will devour you as if you were little more than raw salmon. Finished with a gritty, raw glean that is just smooth enough to be listenable, but tough enough to scrape the skin from the listener’s ears, 80 Years Without Slumber is as real as heavy music gets. Dickmann’s musicianship breaks down any obstacle and article of defense the listener has, just so Washausen’s warrioresque roars can get right in the listener’s face. Even while it is slow and surly, it is immense and intense, throwing off more heat than every flame flooding across California. KODIAK is the sound of downtempo’s angry, bitter grandfather; perfectly aged, intelligent, and ready to whoop ass.

Thirsty for blood, hungry for flesh, your mind will melt and your bones will snap under the relentless weight of KODIAK’s debut EP. 80 Years Without Slumber is dissonance masterfully done, bound to flood the listener’s ears—and the world—before long.



For Fans Of: Admiral Angry, Kingmaker, Loathe, Methwitch

By: Connor Welsh