KRATON - Unto Arcadia

Kraton - Unto Arcadia

7 songs
32:22 minutes
***** ***


Six years after their second demo World Eater, Luxembourgish death metal band Kraton are finally back with their either first short longplayer or oversized EP. The band rather opted for the latter, considering that Unto Arcadia only contains four new tracks. Among the other three, one is a re-recording of a track from their first demo Ker, and two have been released three years ago on a little noticed demo.

In some ways, Kraton are like the lo-fi brother of local death metal pioneers Desdemonia. Pauses between releases are often long, but you always know what to expect. Except that Kraton have more of DIY approach, with their newest record once again having been self-recorded at their rehearsal space at Bricherhaff which they share with Sublind, Dreadnought and Inzest. It should also be no surprise that those four bands also share musicians with one another.

Unto Arcadia is at seven songs a good half hour long. This is an unusual running time, because usually you get either twenty-minute EPs or forty-minute albums, but this intermediate format works really well for Kraton. The band is probably best known for their vocalist Mike Bertemes, who apart from also screaming into the microphone for blackened death metal band Dreadnought, also occasionally sings death metal parodies for guitarist Andy Rehfeldt, summing up millions of hits on YouTube and making him therefore the most listened to death metal singer from Luxembourg.

With Kraton, things are kept at a more intimate level, and I have to admit that I still like what they are doing. The opener Drown In My Disgust, from the 2016 demo, is a good example of what this is all about. Crunchy death metal, definitely not modern, but also not in a forced old school way, with tons of groove, without falling into the trappings of groove metal, with some blackened parts and some doomy parts, the right amount of melodies, all enveloped in a gloomy atmosphere. The self-recorded nature is obvious, and yet the final mix is good enough, better than your average demo, and the lacking of a glossy production only enhances the underground flair of the music. The newly recorded Hades from the debut comes with more ferocity than the original from 2011, also showing impressively how far the band has advanced. And so it goes on, with Kraton acting in their comfort zone, but also showing their doomier side on Doom Breaker and more innovative guitar playing on Unto Arcadia, possibly a hint at what is to come next. The band has indicated that they want to record with professionals in the future, and one can only hope that they are able to maintain this very special charm that Kraton have developed in their nearly ten years of existence. Unto Arcadia has been a step forward, and in times where every metal band tries to be more "djent" than the competition, it is refreshing to still have someone playing the genre it was initially intended.

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