Friday, June 22, 2012

I AM Nimdok - Leviathan (EP) (2012)

Stop me if this sounds familiar. A one man instrumental progressive metal outfit, started by a guitar wiz in a faraway place. Something there might ring a bell, but I assure you, this isn't Australian Sam Locke. Ryuki Akira is the face, and the hands, of UK based I AM Nimdok, a relatively new act with infinite potential and limitless talent. With a mere two EPs under his belt this year alone, Akira is poised to release the third, a two track offering titled "Leviathan," which is, of course, not to be confused with the Mastodon album of the same name. But in this fifteen minute span, this guitarist and beat maker gives you something to cheer, and something to ponder.

With a spoken word intro, the title track eases into being. Drums pound into frame, turning the speech into a call to action, as synths build over it all. As the words come to a close, the true explosion begins. But somewhere between the crushing djent riffs and the hammering drums, comes a wave of house electronics that aren't wholly out of place, but don't exactly fit the formula either. Undeniably, there is an airy, dream like quality to the composition. The downside lies in the mix, where the mechanical takes precedent over the industrial far too often, leaving the guitar work flailing in the background. There are even times when addition pieces of orchestration are layered in, which leaves things feeling cramped.

The shining moments come in waves, when the guitars and drums hammer away at your ear drums, with a haunting layer of synths and keys adding accents. As the distortion fades, and a light piano interlude emerges, you may feel slightly lost, adrift on a sea of new age sounds and structures. But perhaps it is the somber keys that sprout a hell raising guitar solo, the first appearance of anything more than chugging riffs. But the elements absent from the first eleven minutes come roaring back in the final three, giving you a down tuned assault of dense chords.

The far more virtuosic "Shake Shake: The Ballad Of Marina Liteyears" may be what you would have expected all along, with darting guitars riffs taking hold of the track very early on. Programmed double kicks roll in and out of frame, joined by sliding guitars and intricate fret work. Akira finds his stride in these short bursts, giving you equal parts musicianship and aggression. What he manages to do in the course of a mere three and a half minutes is impressive, folding in doses of synths, ones that elevate the track rather than detract from the overall sound. His guitar is in perfect sync with the drums, computerized though they may be, so much so that they join together in a heavy breakdown moments before the song comes to a close.

This is not an EP that you can listen to once and claim to love, or hate for that matter. Ryuki Akira clearly has some big ideas for this project. The fact is that there are simply too many moving pieces to dissect and enjoy in one sitting. Whether or not that is a pro or a con, is completely up to your ear. You may prefer the overzealous first track, one that could be considered cluttered and messy, or maybe the more mature, and much shorter, second track, focused and intricate. What happens when the music stops is what may leave you with a lot to think about. With two tracks that are so different in sound and scope, it begs the question, "What kind of metal fan am I?"


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