With their album being released in late November of 2022, Karpackonaut is a name that could very easily have been missed amidst the flurry of releases that were dropped during the end of the year. Thankfully we have someone like Danielle from The Metal Cell Forums who has all fingers and thumbs on the pulse, and in doing so, has unearthed this sludge-sodden gem. The Irish metal scene has never sounded so healthy, or as organic as it has been over the last couple of years in my opinion. Bands are thriving on diversity and originality and we are all now reaping the rewards for the giant leaps of faith that these bands have been taking.
Together since 2019 and hailing from Limerick, Karpackonaut have certainly stepped outside, and ticked the diversity box when it came to creating their own identity and signature sound. They play a style of music that’s snail-paced and ponderous at times, and which is weighed down by a psychedelic and stoner-cast anchor that’s hanging heavy around their necks. It’s sludgy, dirty and distorted and like any strong hallucinogen, it’s both addictive and compulsive.
Distance Sequence is their second release of 2022, and was recorded in various sessions across August/September of 2022. Free flowing and improvised right from the outset, this album is a juggernaut of a jam session, with no prep work, no retakes, just pure unadulterated off-the-cuff groove and grind. The opening track, Outwards Through Time wastes no time in giving us a taster of what these boys have in their arsenal. Big, chunky, meandering riffs and a space rock spirit that haunts the track, the music flows like molasses, slow and slumberous, with chants and screams laid out under the filthiest if bass lines.
The tribal vibes of Wordless I and the mind-altering undercurrents of Sigils show the experimental qualities and deftness these guys have beneath that stony sludge-driven metal. No two tracks sound the same, as the atmosphere and ambiance overarch on each track, triggering an aurora of light and shape that dances across the northern skies.
Things turn a lot more sludgy and muddy on Immaterial End with more down tuned guitars and a rumbling bass that reverbs from beneath your feet and rises to crack the sky. Varied vocal tones and textures layer the noise and give the music more bite and ferocity. Then you have the curtain closer, and title track Distant Sequence bringing another dimension to the Karpackonaut sound. Airy synths overlapping a melodic groove give the band that post-metal tag, as it trudges along under a lead guitar assault, spiralling and screaming freely without any set pattern, typifying the improvised stamp that verifies their style.
Off-the- cuff, unrehearsed music isn’t for everyone, but I think metal music can carry this kind of vibe. It’s raw in places, a little disjointed at times, but like any old historical building, it’s these little nuances and these minor imperfections that give it character and shitloads of attitude. Karpackonaut have character and shitloads of originality. Check it out!