- A Constant Knowledge Of Death
- Vol III. A/Vol III. B
- California, USA
- 19th April 2019/28th June 2019
- Bandcamp (cheap discog bundle)
ACKOD is a very unique project that somehow exists between the void of minimalism and the bravado of extreme metal – not so surprisingly, out of California (partly), recorded at . It’s complex and brooding. It’s also likely to challenge a lot of people whose idea of music is more neatly packaged and familiar. Personally I find it quite exciting because it’s a part of a sound that doesn’t belong to a time in music but rather one that pops up here and there throughout it’s history like a rare breed. Stuff like Maudlin Of The Well if anyone can remember an underrated project from so long ago. ACKOD have come to 2019 with two releases and two more on the way. All of these releases are following the same story thread started with their first release in 2015, Vol. I: Enculturation and then Vol. II: Organic Emotions in 2016.
These two 2019 albums in particular are quite special, not only as a return for the project but also their collaboration with artist ma-ko (@drivemeawaytroubledheart) on both album covers, really elevating the presentation of the project. ma-ko’s art has been on my feed for some time, I completely adore their style which to me seems very inspired by video game fantasy, I have a feeling these covers had some inspiration from Hyper Light Drifter but their other work on IG speaks to older JRPG’s with a beautiful and traditional aesthetic. The lyrics seem to come from the same place as the art, perhaps there was synergy there. The stories resemble the volatile societies, history and politics of such fictional places. So let’s get into these two albums and keep an eye out for the third.
Vol. III.a: Forth From The Quiet To The Air That Trembles:
This makes me think of a softer version of Between The Buried And Me with math sounding melodies, solid deep growls and ethereal cleans. It feels less streamlined, more wild and uninhibited. They rarely turn on gain for the riffs, even the darker moments play out with clean almost “bouncy” acoustic vibe. It is a weird tone – I can’t tell when it’s open or palm muted, it’s chugging but with grace. It adds a certain quality to the growls, which feel like a separate entity haunting the track. There’s vocals that soar between growl and clean as well, and these are the most powerful moments.
Similar to the recent double release from BTBAM, Automata I & II, both parts are quite short, equaling half an album apiece. This is good and bad depending on your preferences – I know some people are intimidated by a 2 hour release, particularly reviewers. I also know many would expect more bang for your buck. I’m always happy to have additional cover art and all encompassing concepts. If you take into consideration the cheap cost of buying their discography as a bundle on Bandcamp, it all events out. You can get the lot for the price of many single albums.
If anyone remembers Maudlin Of The Well and enjoys that esoteric style, then you’ll be right at home with A Constant Knowledge Of Death. I’d also say fans of Cynic will find kindred spirits here. Minus The Bear is an apt comparison as well. Despite not sharing a direct genre with either and being of a different temperament entirely, there is a common experimental thread playing with clean tones and vocal techniques.
“Malebolge” is the best track in my opinion, as it has a huge moment with harmonious cleans waxing poetic beneath angry rhyme driven hardcore vocals. It’s such a prolonged peak, unlike anything I’ve heard since Such Small Hands by La Dispute. It’s interesting that in such a short period of time they manage to shift so much more towards post-hardcore. It’s as if their base point is something easily molded into either metal, post hardcore or jazz. Whatever they do on Vol III: A it always occurs organically due to the fluid nature of their sound.
Finally we end this release with a full blown post-core beat poet crescendo. A great experience overall that setups up anticipation for the next part. It’s a significant release in 2019 for me due to how faithful it can be to the sounds that came before post-core like skramz, mathcore and more. But all done with restraint, acting as the antithesis of many modern post-hardcore bands that are a new release away from being theatrical cringe.
Vol. III.b: Cognitive Predation:
For this release the cover changes from the ethereal looking story of an individual to a sprawling landscape with a robot spider city. It’s pretty damn awesome. The opening sounds are also quite robotic. Generally it’s more of the same, but with a more fevered pace and they’ve upped the growls significantly. The variation on display here reminds me of The Number Twelve or Botch. Hence why I’m glad for this release in 2019. The style feels endangered but that’s mostly the forefathers and kickstarters, between this and Archivist (solid trilogy of albums) alone it’s been a good year. Perhaps one to rival last years Rolo Tomassi and Boss-de-Nage releases.
There’s also keys (organ? Key simulated organ?). I talk about keys all the time because it often stands out. This can be for better or worse. Here it works well to almost emulate an Opeth sound at times which shouldn’t suit the rest of the music as well as it does. This is reinforced by the increase of guitar gain in Outrage Fatigue that brings with it a more punk approach. The playstyle has a variety of rocky influence after the first peak, which bears a strong resemblance to Trophy Scars level of energy and theatrics.
I feel like some time is wasted on this side of the album. There’s minimalism that goes on a little too long. More so when you’re expecting a committed change of pace or progression in the story arc between Part A and Part B. I was kind of surprised when the final track ended on a lull. Across both albums, these drawn-out, ambient periods are typically rewarded with a bout of violence or melancholy. Comparatively, this did not end on such a note or any real noticeable note. This leaves me to assume that this ending is to act as a sort of connector piece for the upcoming Part C.
I had a lot of fun listening to both of these because it’s hard to predict and is so of it’s own. Looking forward to the rest of the series which the band confirmed will continue with the same artist! Hopefully when it’s all released there’ll be a physical package. It’s an impressive output to quality ratio. Hopefully When I have more time and the new releases drop, I’ll come back for a more in depth analysis of the plot.
Vol. III.c: 
Vol. III.d: