Kawthra Infuse Sludge Metal with Introspection on 'The Tenets'

Kawthra Infuse Sludge Metal with Introspection on 'The Tenets'
"Ignorance Is Bliss," "Confidence Is Key," and "Belief Is Reality" are the three immutable laws that define Kawthra's The Tenets. The debut record from the Toronto sludge metal outfit is an existential record that requires multiple listens to unearth all of its qualities.

Things get off to a doomy start with "Ignorance Is Bliss," with punishing low-end that recalls bands like Demonic Possessor and sets the ambiance for the rest of the album. All of Kawthra's music is based off of contrast, and the melodic lead guitar moments balance perfectly off of the morose rhythmic passages. The song's peak is a Black Sheep Wall-style breakdown that keeps growing until its cathartic finale.

The Tenets' highlight is its centrepiece, "Confidence Is Key," based off of a massive riff that slowly builds and mutates as the song progresses. Drummer Davis Maxwell has some of his best work on this song as his fills play off the riffs. The album's closer, "Belief Is Reality," is full of sonic contrast between full-on melodic guitar passages and extreme dissonance. With lyrics discussing moments of utter contempt that people have towards one another, the musical instrumentation really helps to create an uneasy experience.

Interludes "No One Listens" and "No One Changes" offer a great shift in dynamics with their minimalist instrumental arrangements. The mix of sparse electronics with clean guitar tones creates a calming sensation. These two interludes operate as great palate cleansers between the longer, more intense tracks.

The Tenets is a record of punishing sludge metal that offers an introspective backdrop. Although the key messages from the album appear to be dire and bleak, there is an invigorating quality to the music that begs for multiple visits. For an all-encompassing album that does not take any shortcuts, Kawthra's The Tenets is the complete experience. (Independent)