Impressive debut from 'jazz metallers' Karalta

'Another' is the first album from Southampton-based unsigned 'jazz-metal' threepiece Karalta. Delivering melodic, chilled-out jazz music with a distinctive metal edge, this is an accomplished debut. Subtle, acoustic parts blend seamlessly into beefy metal riffing, both provided by guitarist and lead vocalist Scott Walker. The level of musicianship displayed by the entire band is impressive, although the sound does occasionally sound a bit 'muddy'. However, this can be attributed to the fact that this album was made without the backing of a record label (although it surely won't be long until record companies begin showing an interest in Karalta and their unique, complex but accessible sound), rather than the talents of the band. Hopefully the production quality will improve on the band's next album.

While this is a great little album and well-deserving of it's high score, it's not perfect. Walker's vocals are sometimes a bit hit-and-miss, and while they're generally more of the former than the latter, parts such as the rap-like, pseudo-American accented singing on 'All Too Late' and 'Fade From Real' seems unsuited to the subtlety and beauty of the instrumental parts which they overlay. They cause the songs to jar slightly, threatening to wreck their slow, grooving rhythms. But generally, the vocals work well, and the softer rock style which predominates suits the relativly quiet, calm songs far better than something more traditionally metalsome would.

The other possible criticism of this album is that the songs seem to blend one into another, becoming somewhat samey with regards to tempo and use of light/heavy musical styles. ut to me at least this results in an album that's very relaxing, an ideal CD to listen to when you want something that's easy on the ears without being boring. The nine tracks on 'Another' seem to form one 30-odd minute long song, full of memorable hooks, complex guitar-work and diverse influences. Jazz, funk, rock, metal... it's all apparent on 'Another', and a testament to the band's skill that their able to cram these various styles into a series of sub-five minute songs. Bands who defy classification tend to be far more exciting than those who stick to the narrow confines of their chosen genre, and Karalta are no exception.

Tracks such as opener 'Taken' and the quietly excellent 'Promises' are instantly enjoyable, but the not hidden depths, the subtle complexities of this album meant that it really grows on you. The first time I heard this, I thought it was pleasant enough in a slightly dull way, By the third listen I was grinning widely and very impressed indeed. While this admittedly won't be to everyone's tastes, 'Another' is an accomplished and enjoyable debut, and one which suggests that this won't be the last you hear of Karalta. In a world containing an alarming number of generic metalcore bands and self-absorbed, floppy-haired, indie bands, Karalta are a breath of fresh air. If you're after some clever, genre-straddling rock music, then this album might be just what you crave.