31 Mar 2014

AK-11 - Legendary, Demonic & Invincible [Demo] (2011, Self-released)

Self-proclaimed "triumphant black war metal" band AK-11 started out in 2011 with Valak being the only member. Valak had fashioned this demo, "Legendary, Demonic & Invincible", already by November the same year as a tribute to classic black metal acts like Celtic Frost, Burzum, Emperor and others. In 2013 two new members were added to the lineup, but AK-11 has yet to release anything as a trio.

Though black metal is traditionally stripped down to the bare necessities this goes especially for AK-11. On this demo there is not a breath wasted, not an effort spilled on fancy solos, symphonic orchestrations or overly complex compositions. What the sole member, Valak, puts forth on this first demo is convincingly simple black metal tunes condensed to a fine spirit. Though AK-11 hails from Australia, at least half the demo is sung in Russian as a tribute to the famous Avtomat Kalashnikov assault rifle. While this doesn't have any direct influence on the music found on "Legendary..." it accentuates the vodka-fueled slavic sounds that tracks like Shest' Shest' Shest' i Katyusha take on through inventive guitar riffs.

Most of the tracks are almost literally bursting with energy. Tracks like the satanic "Sniper's Glory" and Slava Rossii stand out as tracks of an especially engaging kind with their enticingly traditional riffs and mechanical blast beats, and the "Legendary..." demo is characterized by an unusually high lowest point in terms of songwriting quality. The riffs in particular catch the eye as one of the demo's strongest competences, Valak's raw vocals and his overall ability to write captivating material not falling far behind.

Production is often devalued in black metal, the genre often being seen as inherently lo-fi. This deep-rooted disregard for quality of sound seems to have also been part of the recording process with AK-11. Seeing as Legendary, Demonic & Invincible is a demo this can more or less be excused, and the - what I assume is a - drum machine has the samples fairly balanced with the abrasive sound of the guitar and the grey veil of Valak's vocals. The demo warrants excitement for future releases by AK-11 and is itself well worth a listen. Australian black metal often takes on a strong thrash metal influence as seen with bands like Deströyer 666, Nocturnal Graves, Gospel of the Horns, Atomizer, Malichor, Razor of Occam and so on and so forth. AK-11 sticks out like a sore thumb in this crowd as a band trying out new things, even if these elements aren't necessarily major parts of the band's sound. 7/10 guitars.

1. The Cleansing Stream
2. Vechnyi Ogon'
3. Slava Rossii
4. Legendary, Demonic & Invincible
5. Sniper's Glory (Satan Guides My Aim)
6. Shest' Shest' Shest' i Katyusha

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