WARKUNT – Of Ruins And Agony
The French death metal band’s name may give you a chuckle but their antiwar stand is serious,what with an adage "Everyday is a fucking war" adorning "Of Ruins And Agony" booklet. Framed in 2016, Warkunt, today composed of Laurent Damelincourt (guitars), Loïc Mulheim (vocals, lyrics), Valentin Rouviere (guitars), Timothée Pfau (bass) and Grégoire Galichet (drums) (with additional LP live session guests bassist Rémi Chaumartin and drummer Gauthier Desmyttere) , independently released "Tor(n)ment" demo (2017) which rightly probably secured them a contract with Great Dane Records for the release of this, here, debut album.
"Tor(n)ment" was a three track mix of Immolation "Providence", Screams Of Chaos "Genetic War" and Behemoth’s "Horns Of Baphomet" rhythms with catchy and memorable melodic leads of Kataklysm, not quite melodeath but rather death metal with melody. Dedicated to Céleste Bourgeois and her family "for their INCREDIBLE support", does "Of Ruins And Agony", a 10 track exactly 30 minute debut LP, expand on the EP ideas or is it a different animal altogether?
"Of Ruins And Agony" seems to run the same course as the EP but tracks are simpler with less detail although they have kept the incredible catchiness, melodicism and memorability. Warkunt knows which parts are memorable and drive those parts into your mind by repeating them at least twice in a song, if not more making you wish more extreme metal bands did that. The music is relatively simple but the flawless conversation between instruments makes it more appealing than some of the death metal "1,000 tech riffs a minute" sallads. Just a small sample, "The Enslaving Poison" at 2:25, where bass leads forward ahead of guitar for a while before the guitar catches up and together they play the same riff again, brings such non-death classics to mind as Pantera’s "Psycho Holiday". After all, sometimes the best way to breathe fresh air into a genre is to go slightly outside of it.
To get the general idea of the sound Warkunt puts out take Immolation’s "Harnessing Ruin", Gorefest’s "False", Obituary’s "The End Complete", and Sepultura’s "Schizofrenia", mix it well in a bowl, blending it together. Prepare two layers of cake: one with Kataklysm’s "Serenity In Fire", the other with Malevolent Creation’s "A Fine Art Of Murder" and lay them on top of each other with the blended mix in between and on top of each layer. Add some Slayer, Hypocrisy, Napalm Death with some Swedish old school death metal to taste. Serve brutally cold with excellent production courtesy of Pangos Studios.
While the aforementioned recipe works throughout the majority of the disc, the last two tracks see Warkunt seemingly run out of ideas, now clutching at cliché Swedish old school death metal and Slayer’s overrated "Reign In Blood" (Gestating Rancor), then trying too hard to sound as epic as Malevolent Creation in their more melodic moments while toning down the brutality, which would have been an interesting effect in the middle of the album but at the end it makes it sound as though someone was rushing them out of the studio because they were next in line to record. Finally, why fade away "Relentless Disposal For Vengeance" just when it gets really good, especially since all the previous and following tracks end naturally? I hate when bands do that or when they fade out in the middle of a solo! This happens way to often in metal and it’s time someone took a stand against this practice.
Warkunt presents a memorable death metal with significant melodicism, everything, running smooth like a well oiled machine. It’s nothing you have not heard before but the songwriting on this, mind you, debut album is already excellent, boding well for the future. I want them to one day confidently stand in the same line as Malevolent Creation and Kataklysm for, if "Of Ruins And Agony" is any indication, they have the chops to pull that off.