Our lives have a beginning, middle, and end, period. That’s a fragile and sometimes terrifying proposition to which none of us chose to commit, but here we are anyway, trying to survive another day even as we watch the world around us crumbling. But no matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, we all face the same ending, and there is nothing we can do to change that.
That said, the idea of rebirth, of a world that continues to regenerate itself even as it battles the parasite of humanity, is an encouraging way to look at life, even if at some point that doesn’t include us. Toby Driver is an artist who seems to come back in a different form every time he releases new music, and the new Kayo Dot record “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike” continues that shapeshifting, this time with the help of old friends. Driver, who handles vocals, programming, and multiple instruments, teamed up with his Maudlin of the Well mates Greg Massi and Jason Byron (who handles all lyrical content) to record this seven-track, hour-long effort that’s a little harsher and heavier than some of the past KD records but also retains the strange exploration and heartfelt experimentation that sets this project apart from so many others. It’s a gripping experience from front to back.
“The Knight Errant” starts in dramatic fashion, apropos for the rest of this record, as keys and emotion stir. Driver’s vocals are a yelp that near death metal territory, and the music has a strange aura that plays in chaos and mysticism. Synths zap through space, the playing is spacey and rumbling, and Driver howls, “Wildflowers growing through useless steel,” as the track bows out. “Brethren of the Cross” begins with guitars striking and the vocals jarring as a thick synth fog develops. The vocals get gnarlier and then soar as again the keys mesmerize, going off on a prog adventure that races toward the sky. The vocals pick up, the playing agitates, and then a dream state is achieved as intensity echoes out. “Void in Virgo (The Nature of Sacrifice)” starts dark and smeary as the singing is softer, and a moody story begins to play out, giving off deathrock vibes. The synth eases as chimes ring out, the guitars reach, and whispers crawl down your spine as light beams through the clouds, and the track bleeds away.
“Spectrum of One Colour” has the bass and drums playing games with one another, the vocals piercing, and a burly pace leaving blisters. We’re into a strange vortex as clouds surround your brain, the growls enter the murk, and the final moments batter you fully. “Get Out of the Tower” has the bass snaking and the guitars generating heat, while the vocals go off on a violent tirade as metal is melting into rivers. The keys shimmer later as the vocals remain ugly and confrontational, the guitars work vibrates, and your senses are numbed. “The Necklace” delivers double-kick drums and misty synth before vicious wails strike, and hypnotic Rush vibes make their way into your bloodstream. Things keep melting as the vocals hammer away, and then we’re on a path to closer “Epipsychidion” that, at 13:10, is the longest track here. We start with a death-style assault as everything comes for you, voices echo, and the ground quakes before some calm is achieved. The vocals then float in ether, working into the atmosphere and slowly cooling your nerves. Suddenly, sounds jolt, the band enters a new awareness, and the final five minutes simmer in noise and tranquility, easing you into the void.
You never know what you’re going to get from a Kayo Dot record, which is one of the reasons they remain one of the more intriguing and challenging bands in all heavy music. “Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike” is a title that should be an easy indicator that you’re entering into something altogether different, and the band’s move back into heavier, deadlier sounds makes this one of their most aggressive in some time. Reuniting with old creative forces sounds like it was a new spark for Driver, and this is a record that exists in its own galaxy with no similar planet anywhere near its incredibly enthralling orbit.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/kayodotofficial
To buy the album, go here: http://lnk.spkr.media/kayo-dot-moss-grew
For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/