REVIEW: Shinto Katana – Redemption [2012]

Artist: Shinto Katana

Album: Redemption

Rating: 9.25/10



Chances are, if you’re reading this–especially if you’re male–you’ve experienced the coming-of-age pubescent ritual of loneliness. That crushing, gut-wrenching feeling of complete and utter abandonment. Chance also are that if you’re reading this, you got over it and moved past that vomitous sensation, even if at the time, it seemed like it would never end. Enter Australia’s mosh-friendly metalcore icons, Shinto Katana, with their new release, Redemption. Redemption captures the essence of that fierce, skin-rending sensation of loneliness and tints it with bitterness and anger, making a ferociously heavy and aggressive album in the process.

Grimey guitar tones, guttural vocals and gyrating, punchy percussion keep Redemption rolling along at a breakneck pace. The title track, “Redemption,” while starting slow, begins with a bang powerful enough to keep the momentum high throughout the rest of the release. Driven by speedy, bouncy and perfectly-toned percussion, Shinto Katana never take the time to stop and smell the roses once they start up. The drums carry a powerfully deep and wonderfully heavy wallop which, while low and beefy, pierces through the layers of other instrumentation and vocals. This isn’t to shame the guitar or bass, however: the guitar maintains a crunching-and-grooving oscillating pattern which keeps the listener engaged, and the bass follows along subtly, but tastefully. Often times, the listener is ambushed by a smooth, bouncy groove turning a complete 180 and morphing into a harmonic-laden, downtuned beast of a breakdown without any sense of warning.

This heavy-heavier dynamic is perhaps the key to the unstoppable chuggernaut that is Redemption. While at it’s most technical, the album isn’t overbearing, or even shreddy, but laden with subtle polyrhythms that even influence the band’s chugged-out, spine-shattering breakdowns. In fact, Shinto Katana’s unique usage of heaviness permeates Redemption not only on a track-by-track level, but rather goes several levels deeper, as each fragment making up each section of the album contains some level of unrelenting brutality. While the guitars groove or riff along in a guttural, downtuned manner, and the drums pulse and pound behind them, the mid-and-low range of vocals bring a heaviness of their own, with lyrics that enforce the band’s misanthropic, bitter feeling. Tracks like “Ghost” use the vocals to keep the song heavy even when all other elements have been removed from the track–right before the songs climactic breakdown, as the instruments cut out and vocalist Dave Naylor shouts “You’ll never see my face again,” the song doesn’t lose it’s aggressive, weighty feel–something many bands have strived for and failed.

While Redemption’s heaviness is fun, well done and engaging, it leaves the listener a little weary by the end of the album. While each track is composed of the culmination of several melodic-but-still-heavy elements, many of these elements are re-used in each track. While “Blackguard” and “Outlaws” function as idyllic proof that the band is capable of including new, melody-centric guitar and drum dynamics, many times, each track is just a constant degradation of sorts–taking step after step further downwards into a bitter, angry and dissonant abyss. While this does get a little tiresome, it does not, however, keep Shinto Katana’s latest album from being consistently enjoyable and fun. Additionally, it should be mentioned that given the very nature of the album, Redemption is so relentlessly in-your-face heavy and crushing that it would take Atlas-like strength to not grow beaten and battered from repeated listens–and that’s without the animalistic mosh that would surely accompany a live performance.

Take a forty minute break from the peace and quiet your now-angstless life has to offer and indulge yourself in Shinto Katana’s aggressive, beatdown-turned-metalcore release, Redemption. You’ll find the heavy, brutal crush of each song wearing you down and churning your gut as if you would never see the light of day again–and chances are, you’ll love every second of it.


For Fans Of: Emmure, Shai Hulud, Kingmaker, Demoraliser


By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism