Hailing from Italy, Krampus enter the Metal world with their first work aptly titled 'Survival Of The Fittest'. After reading the album's title and listening to the actual music you see that both the organic beauty and agressive ruthlessness of nature are well represented here.
In terms of the actual elements comprising the music, I hear riffs that could be associated with a melodic death Metal sound, some power Metal elements and yes... lots of melody througout this album!
Riffs are embellished with traditional folk instruments that really drive the band's sound towards the more melodic domains of music, with very upbeat and catchy lines that capture your imagination and paint a picture of tradition and folklore in your mind. The screaming vocals contribute to the aggression and help a lot in keeping the Metal vibe.
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Folk elements in general tend to generate a vintage or ancient feel, but Krampus present these aspects using a crystal clear production and mix things with more current elements like modern synth sounds and sequences. At first I noticed a constant fight between the 'ancient' sonic elements and the newer 'modern' sounds.
By the end of 'Beast Within' you would think that every aspect of Krampus' music has been presented to you, but then the third track 'Unspoken' kicks in and you are introduced to some clean vocals that really reflect a sound more common to newer Metal bands, especially in the way the kind of hooks they use, so the contrast with the folk soundscapes and ancient feel becomes really strong.
Krampus makes it work well. The marriage of opposites that I found a little disconcerting at first became a quality that demanded my attention later on, and I found myself revisiting their melodies and riffs in my head very often after listening to the record. Sections that combine the 'old' with the 'new' are really well arranged and the modern sound blends nicely with the traditional/ancient vibe.
My only concern is whether Krampus' music is the result of spontaneus songwriting or something a bit more formulaic. I liked the record and would also like to see how their sound and songwriting develops. Are Krampus fit for survival and a long lasting life in the Metal world? The band is certainly appealing and I can see them becoming really popular.
Check them out and enjoy a very interesting view on folk Metal.