The Makai - "Embracing The Shroud Of A Blackened Sky" (2010) [Halo Of Flies Records]
I am always amazed at the names people come up with to describe music, sometimes it works, most times its just pure silliness. I was told the band The Makai was labeled as blackened neo-crust...umm...sure. I can see the black metal and crust punk influence in their music, but I don't know, I feel kind of silly saying it. I will just keep to metal/punk, which is probably no better, but I hate the new development of having super specific names for everything. Not necessary for me, personally, but I digress... The Makai; a band with a few releases under their belt, but none as structured or well thought out as this release. An absolutely punishing hybrid of the darkness of black metal, intensity of hardcore/crust punk and introspection of doom. It may seem a bit odd to think of at first, but I can assure you, The Makai makes the sound seamless and completely organic. One thing I have to note about this record is that it is incredibly intense, from start to finish. Not in the "we scream and blast till our veins pop and amps explode" (although there is plenty of that to be found on here), but in the melodic phrasing and dynamics. There is a sense of incredible urgency in every note, every word and drum hit on this album. The urgency really helps what appears to be the conceptual side of the album, seem even more genuine. I am not going to divulge information on the concept, other than to say, get the record and find out for yourself. I also have to give major props on the packaging of the album. Beautiful artwork, a huge poster and book all come included with the record. The book is of special note; beautiful artwork within and all the lyrics included, which really help solidify the conceptual side of the album. Needless to say, I was incredibly impressed with this album, from beginning to end. Not sure what I was expecting, but this really blew me away. I listened to the album probably 20 times before reviewing it and it got better with each listen. Do not miss this album, because if The Makai keep up this high level of quality on future works, they will be a band to be reckoned with in the US metal scene. Absolutely, totally recommended to all metal and punk listeners.