Kato - Buried With The Rain (EP) (2013)

Conflict is good for all of us; a difference of sound or opinion can lead us to enlightenment in the most profound of ways. Not religious, of course, but musical and intellectual. Hidden within the latest three tracks released by North Carolina outfit Kato is a growing battle between doom metal and hardcore, sludge and screamo. For some, that power struggle might be enough to simply pass on an album for fear of being disappointed. But the adventurous musical scholar in all of us wants to hear what this war sounds like. What you get, if you're brave enough to hit play, is the transformation and assimilation of a band who could choose to stay on either side of the line, but instead dance all over it. Their back and forth nature pushes and pulls you in all directions at the same time, passing you back and forth from slow to fast, soft to heavy, singing to screaming. And by the time the three songs on "Buried With The Rain" are finished you might not remember which way is up, and how to get home.

As the first notes resonate, "Yet His Shadow Still Looms" rumbles into action, but not with the reckless abandon you may have expected. A chorus of solemnly strummed clean chords sets a mood that would be hard to replicate. Within the structure of the track, the clear divisions become the most important decision, not allowing clean and heavy co-mingle or blend. Instead, they are kept compartmentalized, even separating the lone screamed vocal passage from the rest. There is an entirely different band at play on "And All Of The Rats Gather," or so it would seem. After a lengthy sampled spoken word intro, the band erupts into a frenzy, but gone are the subtle devastating distortion and beats; in their place, a more straightforward facsimile, one that delves deeper into the modern punk or hardcore scene. There are elements of post-genres at play, some of which help to carry the main riff deep into the track. But it is the vocals that will be the victory or defeat here, as their grating, rough around the edges sound is sure to divide. The transformation now complete, "Dust Of Earth" is a leap away from where the album began, once again opting for an up front assault. The second half of the track imparts a hazy guitar riff that catches on ludicrously quickly, cementing the final two minutes or so as a live show dream.

It's truly amazing how different three songs can be, all contained within the same album title. Kato don't so much walk the fine line between metal and hardcore, as they do stomp all over it. If you only heard the first track, you would think this is the new horror doom band, akin to Fister. If you only heard the second track, you could be fooled into thinking you've discovered the next hardcore punk band. The third track, the most balanced of the three, would lead you to believe you've found a different band entirely. Individually, they would all make you lean one way or another; together, they are a bumpy ride. How they run that gauntlet is beyond me, but they do it with great ease and grace. The only issue, when all is said and the last notes have screeched away, is that you haven't been given a clear identity to latch on to. Granted, that isn't a damning accusation as much as it is a stray observation, but charged with the task of describing an up and coming American metal band, it makes that task all the more difficult. To put it simply, "Buried With The Rain" is heavy. And that's all you need to know.

7.5/10

Bandcamp - http://kat0.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/katoNCSC