Austin Koll spent many years as a drummer in various American hardcore bands before exploring the possibility of doing his own thing. As a multi-instrumentalist, he took the plunge in 2019 and entered a recording studio to put his material to the test. He liked what came out of the mixing and mastering sessions and knew that his next mission would be to write a debut album under the name, Gyaos:Diabolical. Now, in 2023, he unleashes the songs that sat in his head for so long and hopes you will be open-minded about his attempts to clobber you with a harsh wave of blackened metallic hardcore. If you’re a regular reader of Scream Blast Repeat, you already know to be excited by such a prospect.
Is there a bigger risk than starting a record with a cover song? Celtic Frost succeeded against all odds on their legendary Into the Pandemonium album, and Koll’s decision to start with a cover of Atari Teenage Riot’s ‘Destroy 2000 Years of Culture’ is a no-loss gamble rather than a success. His determination to insert a gnarly black metal angle into his hardcore groove riffing pays off here, but his contemptuous vocals might need retooling on the next record. Follow up, ‘Fight or Die’, presents the same polarising issue – you can hear the ferocity of Bad Brains in the mix and the d-beat thrash of D.R.I., but the vocals sound like a brattish child about to break his toys in a spiteful rage.
Fortunately, repeat listens immunise you against these minor flaws, and you can enjoy the quality engineering and energetic music as you would a Cro-Mags record or the latest Bloodclot LP. Austin Koll is a supreme talent on the drum stool and with a plectrum and guitar in his hands. Listen to the darker grind of ‘Null Pointer Exception’ with its doom metal slowdown at the half-way point. You can detect the sinister thrash of Slayer here, just as you can hear the LA legends on the contentious, ‘Beware! American Taliban!’. The latter is harder than you think to misinterpret despite the folly of comparing authoritarian Christianity with the hardline Islam of the Pashtunwali. Koll’s vocal abrasions are like that of a person forced to eat raw jellyfish as a punishment. Commercial radio will not be calling any time soon.
The most interesting experiment here is the cross pollination of crossover-thrash with a black metal aesthetic. Sometimes, the Gyaos:Diabolical approach feels like a punk band covering Gorgoroth or Darkthrone, especially on standout track, ‘Against All Gods’. On this one, a trepid black metal rhythm circles around the staccato guitars and drumbeats like a wasp. It’s the composition par excellence in Koll’s repertoire, but by no means the only one. Closing track, ‘Katahdin is Risen’, can rival Conan in the heavy doom stakes before the d-beats change the tempo and the sliding fifth chords growl through the amps like a warning from the agents of a cruel state.
Austin Koll can be proud of his efforts in the studio and will already have a notebook of things he can do different on his next record. The foundations of In Accordance with the Prophecy will serve him well in the future if he continues along this path. A reappraisal of his harsh vocal technique should be at the top of his list, but little else needs to change.
Release Date: 13/01/2023
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Null Pointer Exception, Shadow Is the Damned, Against all Gods
Suggested Further Listening: Outright – Keep You Warm (2022), Dead Cross – II (2022), Bloodclot – Souls (2023)