There’s only one word I can conjure from the depths of my vocabulary that I feel can accurately describe Akeldama in less than 3 syllables, and that word is “unique.” That word – unique – is a pretty neutral word when taken out of context. By definition, it is synonymous with being distinct, idiosyncratic, and individualistic; all of which should be listed under the definition of Akeldama in the djent dictionary.
Musically, this band is on par with or succeeds their peers. As per Akeldama’s Facebook page, the band consists of Jeremy Knapp and Eric Owen on powerhouse guitars, Michael Schweitzer tackling the low end bass, and Evan Thibeault responsible for the skeletal percussion section. Combined, these four are a force to be reckoned with; stir in the epically droning strings, synths, and pianos (heard in “Into Infernus,” “A Seed of Hope,” “Everything Beautiful,” and “Love Forever Threaded” and well… essentially the entire album) and the listener is provided with a backing soundtrack-esque layering that propels the atmosphere of the song to the forefront of the emotional palate. There’s a clear and strong focus on songwriting and the portrayal of an ethereal world where everything really is beautiful. And if I may, I would like to pose a challenge to you as a listener; take a good look at the cover artwork of Everything Beautiful. Imagine yourself standing in front of that doorway (which I have officially declared the Akeldama Doorway) and taking your first step into that world (which I have officially deemed Akeldama) and allow this album to be the soundtrack to your discovery of that world. Do this, and I assure you that you will truly appreciate this album.
Staccato riffing, ambient soundscapes, and intricate melodies aside, Akeldama has carved a sound of their own. The single most contributing factor to their sculpted distinctness can be clearly heard in the clean vocals of Andrew Zink. To be completely honest, my first listen through I wasn’t too keen on the clean vocals. As soon as they kicked in on “A New Beginning,” I initiated the same kind of head-tilting motion as a confused puppy hearing someone play a kazoo for the first time. To me, it didn’t fit, and it wasn’t until “Shadow of an Entity” destroyed my ears for the fourth time that I realized the contrast between Connor Reibling’s screams and Andrew Zink’s cleans are what holds the world of Akeldama together. This is solidified with “A Glimpse of Perfection,” where Andrew and Connor take turns littering the Akeldama landscape with equal amounts of comfort and uncertainty.
Akeldama as a collective entity are something to be experienced. Everything Beautiful packs a punch that is yet to be rivaled. I implore you to give this album at least two or three listens before you make a final judgement. If you still can’t picture the world of Akeldama after that, go pick up the Metroid Prime trilogy, play it in its entirety, then come back and listen to this. You will be grateful you did.