For better or worse, the most consistent thought that comes to mind when listening to Kataan is “competent”. The self-titled debut from what could be described as a minor metal supergroup consisting of Nicholas Thornbury (Vattnet Viskar) and Brett Boland (Astronoid) is above all competent. Everything about it is well done. It’s tightly constructed, executed well, produced well. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and there’s a lot of interesting elements on paper. What more do you need?
Well, a few things.
Kataan bill themselves as some variant of melodic black/death/progressive metal with a dystopian theme. Sounds great, right? In execution the genre mix-up blends together a little too finely and the dystopian theme never really translates to a righteous, rebellious fury or something else interesting in that vein. ‘Erase’ runs on a fairly quick pace and it sounds like there’s a lot of layers comprising that wall of sound, but there’s also never enough separation between layers to really latch on. There’s some good chord progressions underpinning solid melodies (‘Abyss’), but nary a riff that you really remember. The vocals settle into mostly mildly notable screams and a Gojira-like sing-y mid range, but ultimately blend into the background most of the time.
Boland’s drum work is the most striking single instrument, there’s plenty of pummeling blasts and solid tom work dancing around in these tracks. ‘Vessel’ doubles as the longest track and the most interesting, building up into greater structural and instrumental depth than the other three cuts, but so much of the EP boils down to “well this isn’t bad but I didn’t really remember much after the fact”. Competence alone does not a great EP make. Kataan have plenty of tools and talent to work with in future though, so ultimately there’s enough here to mark the name down for future check-ins.
Kataan is out now via Prosthetic Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Brett Tharp