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Akando – Attack from Ambush

Attack from Ambush
by Santiago Puyol at 08 December 2019, 3:51 PM

A sense of impending doom lays through much of the combative "Attack from Ambush," AKANDO’s debut record. Mixing Melodic Death Metal, Blackened Thrash and Native American Folk influences, accompanying perfectly the band’s imagery, they deliver a solid even if flawed album here.

"Oath of Revenge" is a folky introduction to the album, setting the topics and the mood. Its tale of exploitation and colonization is delivered by Cheveyo’s deep spoken word. Droning chants, tribal drumming and some kind of flute-like instrument builds a dense atmosphere.

It is followed by the six-minute "Reservation," a complex and brutal track that features both thrashy drumming and riffing on its verses and frantic, Black Metal vibes on its chorus. A folky breakdown midpoint feels mysterious and emotional, even anguished, before getting back into combative mode. An epic guitar solo caps off everything.

"Raven Mocker" comes next, built upon a hypnotic main riff and some deep synth ambience. Another expansive, lengthy track that gets into blast beat assault territory at moments. Drummer Niyol really commands behind the kit. A tempo change on the last third provides a nice counterpoint to the main melody.

The groovy and narrative-driven "Wakan Tanka Nici Un" is a headbanger. Its use of gang vocals is a great touch. An intense highlight of the album. It fits quite well with "Heavy Runner Massacre," an urgent track with some breakneck speed playing. Gang vocals appear again, chanting a battle cry that has Hardcore vibes atop the thrashy rhythm.

"Ancient Voices" starts promisingly with its dramatic synth strings and spoken word but ends up being a little misstep, being a quite repetitive track considering its length. Although some minor shifts in structure keeps it mildly interesting, a little editing would not hurt.

Akando does course to correct things rapidly, delivering the most exciting track on the record, "Two Wolves Dwell in Me." Wolves howling, wind and percussion appears at the intro and reappear through the track adding weight and depth. A dynamic song, shifting in structure, with some of the nastiest Melodic Death Metal riffing on the record. The chanting feels ominous and slightly dissonant.

"Death Song" slows down the pace a little bit while remaining as heavy as anything else does on the album. It is a dramatic track that still allows a bit of breathing room and delves into tasty textured guitar explorations and leaves time to a shredding solo.

Meanwhile, "The March of a Thousand Miles" goes even slower and a bit softer with its vaguely ballad-esque approach. More chanting and vocal harmonies appear, truly shining on the chorus. The flute makes the verses quite melancholic while a beautiful; the melodic solo makes the song feel like a full-blown power ballad for a couple of seconds.

"Attack from Ambush" ends on a high not with the powerful closer, "Hold On for your Life." In a way, it has a classic Heavy Metal mood with some songwriting bits being more than clearly eighties inspired. Exotic vibes surround the guitar solos of the song.

Overall, Akando delivers a solid debut album with this 10-track collection. It features great musicianship, decent songwriting and some decent hooks. Still, its noisy production hurts the experience at points. The cymbals and open hi-hat sound broken. Thankfully, this only happens on a couple tracks from the first half (with "Reservation" being the worst offender).

There is a lot of anger and despair mixed with nostalgia through the record. It certainly feels quite confrontational, like the band or the song’s narrator are ready for battle. Even more, it feels like they are ready to battle to death. The lyrical content and imagery of the band are interesting and atypical, which in itself sets the band apart. Akando are to be payed attention to.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Oath of Revenge
2. Reservation
3. Raven Mocker
4. Wakan Tanka Nici Un
5. Heavy Runner Massacre
6. Ancient Voices
7. Two Wolves Dwell in Me
8. Death Song
9. The March of a Thousand Miles
10. Hold On for your Life
Cheveyo – Vocals & Guitars
Adahy – Bass
Niyol – Drums
Record Label: Boersma Records


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