PICK OF THE WEEK: Politics, greed power Kayo Dot’s futuristic and space-bending opus ‘Blasphemy’

So, other than this site being a quasi-pro wrestling page disguised as a metal blog, there’s also some major dorking out over sci-fi stories over here. Currently, I’m ensconced in James S.A. Corey’s “Expanse” series that has taken up almost all of my reading time this year. When I can find music that sits alongside that, it makes it an even more rewarding experience all around.

Metallic chameleons Kayo Dot once again stepped up to the plate to bring that ideal companion piece with their new record “Blasphemy.” Like all Kayo Dot experiences, this one takes a while to wrap your head around what’s going on both lyrically and especially musically, but once it sinks in, it does so hard. Once again, the band sinks into a story and lyrics written by Jason Byron (formerly of Maudlin of the Well along with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Toby Driver) about three people going on a quest for treasure, only to be destroyed by the very thing they seek, a mysterious sleeping girl named Blasphemy, hence the title. The tale of politics and greed is as classic as any tale from that perspective, but as you delve into the world itself, it gets more immersive. I pulled out some lyrics below, but really, they won’t provide proper perspective. I just happen to like them. Anyway, along with Driver are guitarist Ron Varod, drummers Leonardo Didkovsky and Phillip Price, as well as Tim Byrnes on trumpet and Timm Mason on addition synth design.

“Ocean Cumulonimbus” opens the record with gentle waves before Driver’s singing unfurls, flowing along and letting intensity build. Suddenly, his singing turns to unnerving shrieks, and then a proggy fog settles in and buries the song in murk. “The wheels of progress grind and spin, crushing bones,” Driver observes, “Our loss their win, breaking backs and pressing onward, the spirit of progress pushing downward,” as the track comes to an alien-like end. “The Something Opal” enters into a mist as keys zap, whispery vocals lead the way, and then things suddenly pick up, and the singing ups its intensity as well. Guitars lap, shouts gnaw, and a sludgy atmosphere is beaten down by the drumming. “An Eye for a Lie” is mind-melting, with the vocals autotuned for effect and a spacey ambiance sending chills. The singing then turns in rap-like delivery before getting higher, as the track slips into a dreamy haze. Sounds pushes back into the clouds before floating out with otherworldly strangeness. “Lost Souls on Lonesome’s Way” drives in with strong singing from Driver and a forceful slip into another world taking hold. Weird tones and vivid storytelling shine a light, as Driver sings, “Drew up like madness, ghoul in its coat, he spoke with a smile that went crooked and broken, but he swallowed his bait to seek out the Lapis.” That chills flesh before everything slips out into bubbling.

“Vanishing Act in Blinding Gray” delves further into worlds beyond our own, and it’s the longest cut here, running 8:09. Softer vocals and sound flushes combine, as Driver utters surreal passages such as, “Pilot daydream wasting hours, no port of call to cast his flowers, with lust he wandered far from shore, adventure to the Lands of Whore.” Things get grittier later, as guitars trudge, and a bizarre fog shrouds all sights, as Driver sings, “The spying warden watches from his tower in secret using an esoteric magnifying glass,” before things come to a muddy end. “Turbine, Hook, and Haul” has impenetrable murk, vocals in higher register, and a frosty sci-fi feel that gets into your blood cells. Sax rings out as the vocals swim through the air, and a chilling night feel passes over, giving your body psychological chills. “Midnight Mystic Rise and Fall” starts with Driver calling, “Curse the girl, the girl is cursed, she dreams in jet, her soul is as black as her body,” as vibrant sounds pump through, giving almost an urban feel to the playing. Later on, he declares, “She needs to die,” as the song revels in its oddness, and the keys give off mesmerizing winds.” Closer “Blasphemy: A Prophecy” brings the story to a close, and the characters are tasting demise. Keys sneak through, the vocals punish, and things surge through the ether. “See the fools and see their lies, the bargaining of lives,” Driver calls, “Remove their hands, put out their eyes, walk away as airship dies,” as the song and story crumble, and the track bleeds out into eternity.

Kayo Dot’s musical imagination, along with Byron’s riveting storytelling and lyrics, power “Blasphemy,” yet another intense step forward for a band that gushes progression. This band always has had a unique trajectory and sound, and none of their records are remotely close to repeats of anything that preceded it. That’s part of what keeps Kayo Dot creating some of heavy music’s most enthralling records, that and their incredible dexterous musicianship.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/kayodot.official

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/kayo-dot-blasphemy

For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/

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