Niskala – Panak

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True invention often comes from the least likely of sources. Augmenting the obtuse tendencies of math rock with Gamelan percussion you would expect from some radical new act from the Far East. Yet Niskala call Manchester, England home.

The origin of the band is certainly not the only unconventional aspect of this bewildering and intoxicating ep. The percussive assault blends perfectly with the downtuned riffs and weird and sinister vocals which are delivered supposedly in Balinese.

‘Kekawa’ evokes images of Cannibal Holocaust with its native chanting and sinister witch doctor laughter. It’s a truly demented cocktail of heavy music and haunting ambience. The samples of crickets chirping and the pan pipe intro don’t prepare you for the onslaught of ‘Sarebi’. This number offers a brief moment of familiarity with a gang chant taken from Mr Bungle’s “Goodbye Sober Day” yet it is delivered clearly as a homage to an influential act rather than an attempt to plagiarise one of their heroes.

Mastering quiet to loud dynamics Niskala realise the importance of building tension before unleashing their vicious tribal racket. Off kilter rhythms keep you on the end of your seat waiting for the next barrage of distortion and snarling vocals. Image abandoning members of Sikth and Secret Chiefs 3 on an island with only instruments and 70s horror films to inspire them and you’ll be close to the disturbing yet engrossing sounds of this intriguing release.

‘Kelem’ builds on angular stabbing ostinatos with some truly bloodcurdling screams. It’s the sound of feral tribesmen cannibalising eastern music with western extreme metal in a bold and authentic fashion. As disturbing as some of this stuff sounds it also feels like a wicked time was had by its creators. A fact which translates very well when experiencing this tense cocktail of jungle madness. At only three songs under fifteen minutes this journey to forbidden paradise is all too brief but suffice to say it will whet the appetite for forthcoming works. Intense and exotic Niskala produce the sound of shamanistic rituals and bewildering devilment. We gleefully await their next chapter.

 

8/10

 

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Words: Ross Baker