Leka - Catopia (EP) (2013)


Anyone who has been fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough depending on your viewpoint, to have a pet has surely wondered what goes on in their minds. Cat owners, in particular, have to wonder what kind of plans are being hatched in that furry dome. With their popularity on the rise thanks to the various channels of the internet, it only makes sense that world domination is on the docket each and every day. Leka, a one man progressive death metal project from Finland perpetrated by Juuso Leinonen, has invested a good amount of time into this possibility. And through his melodic death compositions, he has concocted a satirical tale about the rise to power of our furry overlords, and their rule over all of mankind. Roles now reversed, with us as the pets, and them as the owners, a new world order is in place. And with the five tracks of "Catopia," their story will be told for generations to come.

With guest appearances attached to much of the album, not the least of which is the beautiful voice of Elise Karlsson, there are a lot more pieces at play than just one mind. But as "Offering to The Fluffy One" proves, this is no joke. If you aren't bruised and battered by the neverending stream of double kicks and machine gun snares, the high levels of distortion will surely catch up with you. But between savage beatings, Leinonen infuses a healthy amount of avant jazz stylings, something you would never expect here. Their effect is felt, but it cannot derail what is otherwise a blistering assault on the ears. "Hail The Evil" is no different, employing the full armory of weapons at his disposal. As the clean vocals of the verse give way to the explosiveness that follows, Leinonen may have found a perfect storm to sweep you up. Lyrically, the cat has risen, "An ancient evil, older than time itself, worse than the antichrist." The contrast of the early part of the track is not lost here, with that repeated clean passage setting up each subsequent explosion. By track's end, a chorus of voices, clean and harsh, chant together.

More than the other tracks, though, "The End Starts Now" is the perfect mix of metal and satire, with Leinonen crafting a track that is musically diverse, but also punishing when it needs to be. A true album highlight comes just before the two minute mark, as Karlsson and Timo Olkkola duet in a Vaudeville style, one that brings to mind recent works of uneXpect in it's bizarre nature. Once again, the creativity in the lyrics shines through, as Leinonen drops the bombshell line "It's useless, like dolphins, converting to Christianity, with no reason why." The words may poke fun, but the delivery is applause worthy. It would be damn near impossible to pick out a track that stands out more than the others, but the marriage of opposites on "Turncoat" might take the proverbial cake. In the verse, you have a blackened death metal delivery that rivals the best acts in the business; showing once again that satire may be tongue in cheek, but this isn't a gimmick. But you also get a soaring chorus, a  dynamic and powerful vocal component. You have the story at your disposal throughout the album, concluding with the aptly titled "The Purge." Every bit of blood and guts that is coming is captured in both the instrumental and the vocals, a terrifying means to an end.

It's no secret that metalheads are notorious for their love of their pets. As I sit writing, I have two sets of eyes fixed on my jugular, waiting for the time to strike. But this project, this work by Juuso Leinonen, has brought together many of the things we hold most dear; our pets, our music, and the crippling fear of being overthrown. It can't be stressed enough that subject matter does not disqualify an album under any circumstances, whether it be about Christianity, Goblins, or even cats. If you can't reconcile the lyrics and themes here, you would be more than welcome to digest what is one of the most intensely successful instrumentals we've heard in recent memory. But adding in the well thought out lyrics and story, you have an album that is something else entirely. Leinonen characterized the album as a "story about cute demonical creatures seizing the control over mankind," and he has done more than enough to get that across to us. But every riff is followed by a sly smile, concluding "Catopia" with the lyric that seals the deal; "It's so fluffy, So fluffy I'm going to die."

9/10

Bandcamp - http://leka.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Lekaband