Autokrator- Autokrator

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, April 26, 2015

If you’re a fan of extremely dense, noisy death metal then Autokrator’s self-titled debut is a release you should grab immediately. Formed about a year ago by N.K.V.D.’s Loïc.F, this group mixes some of the heaviest death metal tonality around with elements of industrial and drone for a sound that does its best to destroy everything in its path and leave no trace behind. Even some listeners who are into other death metal may find this one too dense and murky for their tastes, but if you’re interested in some of the nastiest and destructive material out there Autokrator is likely to become one of this year’s highlights.

There are plenty of death metal bands out there that make a conscious effort to bury their riffs and other elements of their instrumental work in layers of noise and grime, but few have pulled it off in the way that this group has. The sheer amount of weight this recording has behind it is incredible, as the guitar/bass combination creates dense murky layers that completely engulf your eardrums and suck you in with their power. While the other instrumentals lumber forth and create layers of distortion the drums pound away with an almost machinelike precision that fits with the hints of electronics that add a bit of an industrial vibe around the death metal base. Admittedly there is a good deal of similarity between many of the traditional death metal sections, but Autokrator’s intention seems to have been to create droning riffs that stretch out to their most destructive level so it isn’t surprising that the structures end up very close to each other. It’s part of what makes this recording an acquired taste, as you’ll have to dive underneath the bases each of these songs are built on and peel back the layers of noise and grime to find the nuances. But the effort is worth it for those that lean towards the most extreme variations of the genre, and at thirty three minutes in length I found that the sheer amount of intensity was just right and prevented this one from feeling overly repetitive.

With the sheer wall of sound you would think the vocals might get swallowed up in the mix, but they’re able to break through and add an additional blast to the already dense recording. Two members of Autokrator provide vocals in the form of extremely low guttural growls and some slightly higher shrieks, though the lower ranges seem to dominate much of the recording. It’s a mix that works perfectly, as the way that the screams and growls are able to blend in with the grime and noise yet still grab your attention is a testament to just how much energy they’re able to provide.  Based on what I’ve seen of the lyrics, the band’s lyrical content seems to be themed around Roman emperors and the destruction of the Roman empire, and this comes through in both the instrumental and vocal performance. During some of the industrial/drone moments some samples are utilized that give off a very commanding, power feeling, and it’s an element that helps to differentiate the record from some of the others out there.

Autokrator’s debut is one of the most earth crushingly heavy and aggressive death metal records I’ve heard this year, and while it tends to go for similar droning song structures that sometimes blur together the sheer destructive force kept me coming back. This album demands a lot of the listener, but those that find overwhelming amounts of noise to be an appealing element in their metal will find a lot to suck them in and the integration of some industrial overtones makes this group distinguishable from some of the others going for this type of dense, cavernous death metal. Turn this one up and prepare to get absolutely destroyed, as Iron Bonehead’s once again found some of the most extreme material out there.

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