Wednesday 29 January 2014

Review: Bookakee “Whorrific” (December 2013)

The first thing that struck me about Bookakee’s album “Whorrific” (December 2013) is the concatenation of musical styles.  The album consistently transitions between technical brutality, heavy, blasting riffs, and moments of calm and tranquility. Songs build listeners expectations for something and then pull them in a totally different direction. The only safe bet is expecting the unexpected. Right when you expect a song to soften, take a break, give you a moment of peace, it gets brutal—right when you think you can’t handle the brutality anymore the songs will screech to a halt and play a moment of tranquility, an almost relaxing bridge…into something even more brutal than before.

Listeners will notice immediately the technical style Bookakee employs on this album, with the use of unexpected timing, full pauses, and layered riffs structured with such complexity that songs are disorienting at times. Moments on “Whorrific” sound almost playful.

The guitars of SP Gagnon (Lead) and Mat Paré (Rhythm) bounce between brutal, down-tuned shredding, and high-pitched playful solos. At times the guitars resemble what we might expect from Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus, but then turn to jazzy, rocking out, riffs recalling more melodic bands like Dream Theatre, or Opeth, and to keep listeners on our feet Bookakee also employs that high-pitched, complex tapping, melody, and guitar solos. After all this there are still the breakdowns.

The bass of Jo David is low, fast, and omnipresent. Behind the brutal distortion of the guitars there is always a fast and bouncy bass-line. The soft breakdowns on this album are swollen and bursting at the seams with Bass. There are almost too many notes, it’s amazing…yet the distortion, speed, and chaos of the guitars needs something to hold it together.

From technical breakdowns, to jazzy beats, to savage blasting, the drums of JP Bouchard foster the unity of Bookawee’s sound while adding to it an intensity of momentum that changes at times on a single note. The drums, like the other components of this album are intense in their diversity—contributing a unity to the dispersed components of the strings and vocals. They come and go from the forefront of the songs in order to bring each part of the song to their sharpest points.

Phil Langelier’s vocals are simply brutal. They range from deep gutturals to high pitched screeches, with pig squealing, and mid ranged yelling, gurgling, and screaming in between. Following the other components of “Whorrific” the vocals are wildly unpredictable. At their softest they complement the instrumental aspects of the songs; and at their most brutal the vocals are an assault on propriety, expectations, and comfort. Part of the overbearing diversity of style on this album is the play of many vocal styles, and relations to the tracks.

Over all “Whorrific” is a very strong album. It provides a fulfilling range and diversity in styles and components. This album succeeds at keeping listeners almost worried about what will happen next—it is through and through a masterful work of brutality and heaviness. It strikes a balance between instrumental styles and vocal styles as well as a balance between the vocals and instruments that is rare in progressive Death Metal.

Whorrific is the word indeed.

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