Music Reviews

Artist: cdatakill (@)
Title: Battleworn
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
Denver-based musician Zak Roberts is cdatakill, active since the mid-90's under names such as ak-47 and dj rabies where he was more into speedcore and hardcore. This is quite a change from those genres, although as cdatakill Roberts makes good use of what he's learned along the way. 'Battleworn' marks the fifth release as cdatakill, the first on Hymen Records, the others being released on Ad Noiseam. I haven't heard any of Roberts' previous releases, so I'm going into this with 'virgin ears' so to speak. I must have had this CD confused with something else in the review hopper, as I put off reviewing it for so long likely because of the aggressive-looking cover, I mistook it for a noise project, which it assuredly isn't.

There is a lot going on on 'Battleworn,' maybe too much at times but don't let that put you off. As cdatakill Zak isn't adverse to mixing genres, often within the same track. At times you get jungle, dubstep, hardcore, IDM, breakcore, doom metal, country-western (I kid you not, it's the samples!), techno, and likely a dozen others I haven't thought of. Remember when FSOL was considered innovative? Well, this sort of makes me think of them then, although cdatakill bears not a whole lot of resemblance to cdatakill. The first thing that stood out to these ears is Zak's excellent drum and percussion programming skills. Always engaging, and often rhythmically inventive. It's not overkill either; there is plenty of space for interesting atmos and ambience. I like his use of vocal samples too, often not much more than a processed snippet or phrase, but actually enhancing the music rather than detracting from it. The electronics are inspired and resourceful. From track to track there is a good amount of variety, yet a cohesiveness that won't give you the impression you're listening to a V/A compilation. There is a dark moodiness to 'Battlworn' but it never gets morose. Sometimes I was reminded of the best of Scorn, but with a less heavy-handed approach. At others, Access to Araska, or similar artists. The two remixes on the album ('Battleworn' by Nest, and 'I Swear' by Sense) sounded completely different from the originals, and not bad at that, so you're not just getting rehashes.

Summing up, I was fairly impressed by cdatakill's 'Battleworn'. It's an album that seems to have a good replayabilty factor, somewhat psychedelic and mind expansive, and you can really get immersed in it. The recording and production are very good too. It's hard to imagine where cdatakill will go next, but count me in for a copy of the next release. I'm game.

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