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Reptalien - Reptalien

by SJ Loschi at 25 May 2023, 11:14 AM

Walking back from a friend’s house after a few beers on a cool Central Asian evening, I scrolled through my Spotify like one does and found REPTALIEN, which was the latest band in my candy jar of promos to review. “12 monthly listeners,” it said.  I have more kids in my grade six math class. The album color seemed to be a dual-color image of a dragon emerging from the primordial depths of an Earth-like planet. Perhaps this is crossing a journalistic line drawn in the magma of a belching, angry planet, but it makes sense.  It makes sense because there is greatness buried within all of humankind, no matter how wretched that greatness is.  There is greatness in the guy who bakes the bread I pass on my way home from my friend’s house.  There is greatness in the indignant 11-year old trying to find a common denominator.  And there’s definitely greatness in the multi-cultural trio that has amassed their talents to bring us these 45 minutes of psychedelic, sludgy thrashy and topical heavy metal. Something tells me those monthly listeners are going to continue to grow like the tumor on a cancer-ridden wyvern.

First song “Scandemic” is the inevitable response to a pandemic that involved every single human being on the planet.  It makes it even more poignant that the predictably skeptical metal approach to the virus is composed by a guy from North Carolina, another from Italy and a third from Poland.  In other words, you can’t just blame it on Trump or the CDC or Wuhan: this shit is a global conspiracy, and the three angry young men in REPTALIEN want to make that loud and clear. At 8:28, the album’s longest song opens with an audacious beginning- spoken word from one of the myriad talk shows that littered news stations during 2020- before launching into a METALLICA-like groove. The song has a “Master of Puppets” vibe to it- the guitars are crisp and tight; the drums militant and locked in; the bass propulsive, yet unobtrusive.  What separates REPTALIEN from the pack, however, is their willingness to explore instrumental worlds that aren’t always easily embedded into straight-up thrash.  At one point, the song deconstructs into a psychedelic breakdown reminiscent of ELDER or KING BUFFALO, a lolly-gagging, groovy bass line over a pass-the-joint 4/4 drum beat and clean, shimmering guitars.  The band is at their best in these moments, as they make the more heavy passages really explode.  There’s some PINK FLOYD guitar leads, and- for the love of God- a cool-ass shaker, which is something I’d never thought I’d write.  It’s a powerful opening to an album that takes the listener on a modern journey through the past two years.

The second song, the instrumental “Tyranny”, also cleverly mixes the unexpected with the expected.  In the background you can hear what sounds like a Chinese voice blared out over a metro system, I’m sure, a forewarning of what was to come. A militant, two-chord beginning hammers home the theme, sirens swirling in the background.  Third song, the patient, slow-burn “Coming Storm” involves some repeated industrial percussion before building up like METALLICA’s “Orion”: keyboards come in with a descending fall into the abyss over a single groove punctured by an open string.  “We saw the sights around us-uh!  And thought that we were dreaming-uh!,” grunts Mikolaj Krzaczek, in his best imitation of James Hetfield on half a bottle of Robitussin. Krzaczek’s vocals are often painfully stretched, distressed growls of disgust and anger. On an album that puts as much emphasis on the emotional impact of the instrumental pieces, his vocals add another layer of pathos to a record that’s steeped in it.

At this very moment, as I play “Scandemic” for the umpteenth time, REPTALIEN is down to 11 monthly listeners.  I’m not sure how the algorithm plays into this on Spotify or any other streaming site, for that matter, but there’s no doubt that number can’t go anywhere but up.  It’s a diverse, emotional record that’s deliberate in its song structure and pacing.  As a debut, it has its moments of growing pains, but in some ways this just adds to the emotional authenticity. If you’re reading this, do the band a favor.  Go on over to Spotify and put the record on repeat so these guys can earn some cents.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability:  9
Production:  7

4 Star Rating

1. Scamdemic
2. Tyranny
3. Coming Storm
4. Offended
5. Patience: Zero
6. Mary Had a Dream
7. Hypocrites
8. Despite How I Feel
9. Let’s Make a Lie
10. Kingdom of the Fallen
Fabio Allessandrini- Drums
WK Rhynes- Guitars, Bass
Mikolaj Krzaczek- Vocals
Record Label: No Life Til Metal Records


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