Cambridge groove metal quintet, Akkadian, last spoke to Scream Blast Repeat in March 2021 at the release of their third single, ‘Agenda’. Since then, they’ve replaced their rhythm guitarist and issued three more singles. Now, the band are ready to test the waters with their first extended play. It took five years and much hard work to get here, not to mention a steady climb to the top of England’s grassroots music venues. But the important thing is that we’ve reached this point and can appreciate their evolution. The devil might have evolved, but so have Akkadian.
Opening track, ‘Second Sight’, is the heaviest thing in the Akkadian discography. There are two types of heavy guitar music – the type that crushes you into submission and the type that invigorates you with a feeling of muscular invincibility. Akkadian belong in the latter camp. Chunky palm-muted guitars pump you with injector fuel and make you believe that human flight is possible through determination alone. Listen to the first twelve seconds as hostile guitars sear through the speakers with ominous drum accents in pursuit. This band mean business. Gojira used to sound like this before they found their comfort zone in 2016. Danny Thurston’s voice is meaner and lower in the mix and free from any metalcore techniques that once defined it. Harry Newberry’s command of the crunchy guitar rhythms makes Aaron Wright’s job on the drum stool easy, yet he revels in the mid-tempo groove with a beastly double-kick kick attack worthy of Mario Duplantier. There’s a chorus in here, but it’s a subtle one concocted with backing screams and oxygen-deprived roars that shrivel under a lethal sunlight.
How much of Akkadian’s sound will retain a prog flavouring is the central question of this EP. The title-track continues the mammoth guitar chugging, but you can hear the group’s thought process unfold. How can we stay heavy and satisfy our imagination? A menacing synth drone prowls in the mix for the first twenty seconds as panned guitars crunch in each speaker. The dropout to bass and drums after the first chorus allows you a reprieve the way a guerilla fighter takes comfort behind a tree once his enemy comes into sight. Thurston’s voice soothes with relief in the respite, but you know this is a mantra to prepare oneself for the confrontation. Another Gojira riff roars through the amps at the critical moment. The band cite Lamb of God as a prime influence on their music – this is more like Fit for an Autopsy in the hands of early Periphery. Aggression levels soar. Voice phrasings turn demonic. Crisp downstrokes attack the guitar strings in a rush of violence.
Ending the EP with a cover of Massive Attack’s most overrated song is a risky way to bring things to a close. ‘Teardrop’ contains one of the most iconic drum loops of all time, but the original always underused the majestic vocal power of Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins). The thought of a beefed-up version with bone-headed guitar chugs is enough to turn your scepticism into apathy, but it serves a purpose for the band. It allows them to experiment with temperamental dynamics in a hit single famous for its downbeat anxiety. Thurston makes the most of the atmospheric passages to test the psychedelic textures of his voice. It’s a creative rendition of an overplayed song, but it will soon disappear from the consciousness of band and audience alike. Another invincible slab of groove metal would have been the wiser choice here instead of a cover.
Clearly, Akkadian see no need to rush into a full-length album. Releasing a three-track EP is another step in their evolution. Add in the six singles prior to this, and they now have eight beasts in their live repertoire. Each one of them will leave an impression on you. You can expect to hear more from this promising band.
Release Date: 27/10/2023
Record Label: Self-released
Standout track: Second Sight
Suggested Further Listening: Gojira – The Way of All Flesh (2008), Periphery – Icarus EP (2011), Neorhythm – Evils EP (2021)