George Kollias
Invictus

I am a giant Kolliasist. His debut with one of my all-time favorite brutal tech death outfits, Nile, happens to also be my all-time favorite Nile record. Blast beats are a given, but his take on the groovier, crushier Nile moments really sold me, and gave the band a compelling depth that has, in my opinion, sustained them as a go-to tech death band.

Seeing that Kollias, was releasing a DIAY record had me reluctantly jaundicing my eye in advance, however. I am always a little leery of one-man records – maybe it is just the era I was raised in, where vanity projects were usually vapid and gutless, often precursors of break-ups. Was this to be some thinly veiled percussion seminar or, worse yet, just duller versions of Nile compositions?

Of course, this is not that era. So the real questions are does Mr. Kollias have something to offer of both substance and uniqueness; will this sound like a fully realized effort, or just homage to other artists? And, while we know Kollias can mathfuck a drumkit, is he up to poly-mathfucking a whole band setup?

The answer to the latter is a resounding “yup”. While he is not exactly up to the chops of his guitar-eating mates in Nile, he does imbue his riffing with a certain flair and wildness that reminds me of the first Zyklon record at times. This is especially effective when he is synching the guitars to his off-kilter drum riffing, as in “Aeons of Burning Galaxies”, where the stuttering almost loses the listener, just to place us handily back in the groove. The effect is familiar, but also singular, evolving a hardy spine within the compositional morphology.

Vocally, Kollias’ strength lies in his humility. He seems to be aware that his voice may not be a world beater, so he uses double tracking and other effects to give himself maneuvering room, and it works very well. When it comes to blackened roaring, even the best vocalists can get repetitive, so these strategic decisions work better than one might think.

Obviously, the drumming is essentially above criticism, assuming you are like me and love a good blast beat mixed with a goodly amount of groove and changeups. All this is produced in a lively manner, crispy and effective.

The inclusion of guest solos and vocals by the likes of fellow Nile-ers Sanders and Toler-Wade, as well as Bob Katsionis (Firewind/Outloud) and George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ) and a few others serve only to enhance the creations, lighting magnesium bright flares to the already burning environs.

So, to the former question: does this record bring us anything we weren’t getting better elsewhere? Again, I am going with “yup”. Inasmuch as most metal has a built in familiarity at this point in the game, Kollias seems to be using this as an opportunity, not to show off why he is a drummist god, but to express his own take on a genre he and his cohorts helped cement into a modern staple. Writing in a blackened death style, he obviously wanted to write SONGS with a capital S, and for the most part he has succeeded admirably. The aforementioned “Aeons of Burning Galaxies” is a standout example of these successes. The focused, intentional rhythms kept me enthralled, and the changeup capstone sits very well. “Shall Rise, Shall Be Dead” follows this formula, with a good supply of neck breaking moments to keep even the mildest headbanger sore for a week.

I mentioned Zyklon earlier, and the more I listen, the more that early aughts mechanoblack ethic seems fitting as a descriptor. Used as I am to hearing Nile’s soaring and bending death riffs with Kollias’ drumming, it works just as well with this razorwire style, as demonstrated in the rolling epic warchant “Voices”.

The record is not bereft of Nile-isms. George adds soundscapes and brooding moments to his aural topography, which will immediately point listeners to his day job. And now and then I am reminded this is a one-man effort, as occasionally ideas are drawn a little tighter and thinner across the slab than they ought to have been. But the saving grace is always that Kollias performs with panache and heart. Much of this album, rather than existing as a way to prove George is good at playing lots of instruments, insists it must be: the music justifies itself, most of the time. If you are a fan of drum centered, furiously blackened death, this is a no-brainer. Just looking for a good extreme metal record? Still a no-brainer. But if you are looking for a vanity drum clinic, or a EuroNile retread, this is not really for you.

And that would make you an idiot anyway.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Sessions
June 11th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Kevin E

    Awesome review and killer album. I just got this in the mail the other day and having gone through it a few times I’m just floored. Even more amazing he did it all himself. Will be in my year end top ten for sure.


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