Friday 21 May 2021

Karmant - Riot in Uniform (2021)

Country: Bangladesh
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 1 Apr 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives | YouTube

It's a shrinking globe. Here I am, over five thousand miles west of home listening to an EP submitted to me from Bangladesh, which is a further eight thousand miles west. It's odd to discover that Dhaka is actually closer to where I was born than where I live. And yes, I reviewed some thrash metal earlier in the week with the new Torture Squad, but that was a short EP and this one isn't much longer, so the two together add up to an album in my book. Fortunately, this is more consistent in its genre.

I wouldn't have thought of Bangladesh as a hotbed of metal, but I'm fast learning that there are a lot of excellent extreme metal bands in southeast Asia, from other bands in Bangladesh like Kaal Akuma through Elcrost in Vietnam down to the death metal haven of Indonesia, though my highest rating for that country went to an atmospheric black metal album by Pure Wrath. Now I can add Karmant to the list because they they play a varied form of thrash that's often agreeably fast, which makes it right up my alley.

The opener, Nuclear Outbreak, is the fastest and best song here, but it's neatly varied, even finding a groove metal vibe during the midsection. It's led in by a siren and then machine gun fire, which turns out to not be machine gun fire in the slightest, because it's excellent drumming from a gentleman by the name of Naweed. I have to admit that I spent a while simply listening to these drums. Naweed is a perfect drummer for a thrash band, because he can play at any tempo they want to go, shift gears like there's no tomorrow and never seem to be approaching the limit of his speed.

What makes Karmant so promising is that he's not the only perfect fit here. Rumman and Zamil play a tightly woven pair of guitars and the more intricate work, like the intro to General Destroyer, is easily as enjoyable, while Zami has a few opportunities in the spotlight for his bass, one in the opener and a second on Greed, plus a really nice section early in the second half of General Destroyer. It's not hard to track his bass throughout and he rumbles nicely behind the guitars in quieter bits of the title track and others. Musically, this band is excellent, even if they formed only five years ago and this is their debut EP. All the various instrumental stretches are highlights for me.

The worst thing about this EP is that it ends, without a natural stopping point. It feels less like a four track EP and more like the first four tracks of an album and I was ready to keep going into the last half a dozen. I'd also call out Zami's vocals as a lesser aspect too, though not a negative. I was surprised to find that he sings in English and he seems fluent, though there's clearly an accent there. However, he has a punky approach that works much better in slower, churning sections than it does on the sprints. My guess is that he thinks of himself as a bass player who sings rather than a vocalist who plays bass.

Thanks to Farhan, who kindly sent this EP over to me for review. I like Karmant a lot and look forward to a full album. This is an indie release and I'm still learning about how deep the fanbase is over there in southeast Asia, so I hope this finds a global audience. Torture Squad formed over thirty years ago, but I'd take this debut EP over that band's Unknown Abyss in a heartbeat.

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