Dan Peacock – Guitar & Sound Design,
Rob Doull – Guitar,
George Bunting – Bass,
James Kay -Drums.
1. Baikal, Pt. I
2. Baikal, Pt. II
3. Baikal, Pt. III
4. Baikal, Pt. IV
5. Baikal, Pt. V
6. Baikal, Pt. VI
They say that first impressions matter in life, and the same could be applied in the world of music. You get a feel for an artist or band often from the first glance of them, be that their physical selves (you judgemental sods), the song title, album title, the music itself or even their name – whatever the case, it can help shape your immediate opinion. It can often give you an indication of what to expect from their sound, e.g. a band like NILE were likely going to use Egyptology for their subject matter, or that INFANT ANNIHILATOR would be espousing subtle and nuanced views on the military industrial complex’s ever increasing contribution to global social decay… And with that, we neatly find ourselves at the subject of our discourse today: ASIAN DEATH CRUSTACEAN.
It’s hard to completely indite the first impression such a band name gives, but it does feel as if it would have been devised by using one of those online generators such is the rather random way it is put together. The majority of rock and metal takes itself a little more seriously than such a name would suggest, so one would almost expect a kooky album of punky oddities and off-kilter skits. Well sometimes one expects one thing and gets something completely different, with egg cheerfully acquainting itself with face. Less often, though, this surprise twaining of breakfast staple and assemblage of sensory organs is of the joyful sort, and that is what presents itself here.
Hailing from London, ‘Baikal’ is the band’s debut bow and breathes into life gently with gorgeous ambience that is done so well, you would be forgiven for thinking you have found the record from the more relaxed shelf of the internet. Yet simple drums kick in alongside chiming guitars that give a small hat tip towards contemporaries EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, before kicking some teeth in with a crunching, grooving riff that rounds out “Baikal, Pt. I”. That right there is the band’s sound in microcosm: metal meets ambient with a light dusting of jazz. It is a relatively tall order to blend genres together, yet ASIAN DEATH CRUSTACEAN manage it with ease, sounding comfortable in all areas and weaving them together in a flowing tapestry.
Where the band deserve special plaudits is in making an instrumental record almost completely cohesive, yet winding and explorative at once. The aforementioned riff that bludgeons towards the end of “Baikal, Pt. I” returns again later in “Baikal, Pt. III”, whilst those ambient passages dreamily lead you off into another world. A case in point for this comes in “Baikal, Pt. IV”, which features solely guitars and synthesisers that make for an ethereal movement and emotive journey. It’s that last point that the band are particularly adept at – an album that lives and breathes as you do, that emotes, and has highs and lows is a far better listen than one that is unrelenting in its extremity. The snapping riffs and despairing melodies in “Baikal, Pt. V” would not have the same impact, were they not supported by lighter passages and allowed to breathe. The more boorish out there may ache for more of the former, but it is the balance here that makes the album all the sweeter to listen to.
For an album that is named after the world’s oldest and deepest lake, ‘Baikal’ is a spectacular debut that shows a depth, maturity and nous that would ordinarily be beyond a band’s first foray into the music world. It is organic, introspective and beautiful all at once, yet has riffs that will snap and bite at a moment’s notice. That ASIAN DEATH CRUSTACEAN can produce an emotive piece of work that combines their love for ambient, jazz and metal at such an early stage of their career should be thoroughly commended, and will bode well for their future. First impressions may matter, but it’s the ones you make that are wholly but pleasantly wrong that stick with you. Suffice to say, ‘Baikal’ will be most welcome to stick around.