REVIEW – Deth Kaktus: Prick

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Self-release (2022) / Wormholedeath (2023)
  • Release Date: July, 2022 / September 9th, 2023
  • Genre: Hardcore, Metalcore, Thrash
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Going through the ol’ inbox in the mood for metal brought my attention to one by a band called Deth Kaktus. I decided to check it out and look more into the band themselves given the promo description spoke only about the band’s dedication to the music and their guitarist Matt Garvey having mastered it. Other than that I was met with an incomplete band line-up on their Facebook, coming soon pages on their website for over half its contents, and various broken links. Thankfully the ones in the press kit worked, but even then I have little idea who the band is and that their debut album Prick actually dropped July of 2022 through Spotify with Wormholedeath Records handling digital distribution September 9th of 2023. So, there’s your intro, but what about the effort itself?

“Evelyn” starts things off strong with a nod to the golden days of metalcore and melodic death influence like The Autumn Offering and Shadows Fall. The latter of those two becoming more evident after the less energetic solo that is a good one, but the pacing takes away from the enthusiasm a bit. Other than that, this is a promising introduction to the band’s stronger traits before slamming to a halt as “March of the Vikings” starts. It mostly sounds like the negative points of Avenged Sevenfold and Lamb of God eventually diving into some strong Amon Amarth backed by an audio quality not strong enough to support it or the rest of the incredibly unnecessary track length that shows deth Kaktus don’t understand the concept of moderation. Sadly, the nosedive does not stop here.

“Southern Discomfort” is just straight-up Pantera worship (and I’m being generous with that term here) in that I was waiting for Emmanuel to just start reciting the lyrics to “Walk” multiple times throughout the entire piece. Yes, they are basic riffs, but because the Vanilla Ice “It’s not the same” argument exists doesn’t mean you should. When the pace eventually picks up for a solid solo, a breath of original talent becomes evident before jumping back into the aforementioned prolonging the end to the point it just feels like an eight minute long music adaptation of the “can I borrow your homework” “yes but change it enough” meme.

Aside the obvious influence from other bands being more duplication than reference material, a lot of this comes from the mastering. When the pace is moving, things can sound great. Sometimes if the focus is on a lead hook and nowhere else, you can pick up on a bit of a bias in the job Matt did [I bring this up from experience having worked in a band prior where the guitarist handled the studio aspect of our demo and all but his stuff was less focused in the mix]. You can hear the music itself becoming weaker during a bridge to focus on the notes, leaving things sounding empty, as well as some songs with vocals ranging between heavy on distortion, downright weak, or kind of ugly in a negative way. The more complex solos also get hit as they can just lack anything to back them up, forsaking a rich supporting foundation to muted bass lines akin to early eighties analog that doesn’t fit the sudden progressive whiplash. Yes, it is a detriment to Prick as a whole, and I’m aware this is a “basement studio” recording, but I wish the group would have paid an independent ear to work on it instead as everything seems to have been captured properly.

Ok, so are there any positives? Yes there are, and they speak volumes to the group’s strengths hidden in the filler. “Zero Kaktus” is one of the few songs to truly stand out in a positive light. Hints of As I Lay Dying and traces of Soilwork lead to some truly catchy moments, a decent hardcore attitude, and a solid composition that flows smoothly from start to finish without any exhaustive drawn out chunks slowing things down. If anything, this is where the group shines and really should become the focal point of their sound going forward despite the less enthusiastic Avenged Sevenfold-ish “Hail Ass, Eat Satan” bonus track that is still a good performance despite the audio making the simpler musicianship come off a bit bland.

“Gaza Strip Club” has a strong hardcore presence to it that has a bit of a darker undertone to it that the mid-tempo pacing and blatant Slayer “Reign in Blood” riffs work nicely alongside of. “Nagasaki” is a catchy metalcore-heavy track that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead is just a catchy song from start to finish that sounds more like someone wrote it instead of lifting a riff or two from another band and writing a whole song around it, as well as knows when to not overstay its welcome. There’s also “CSS” which does wear its Carcass meets Pantera influence on its sleeve, but not to the point it makes you just want to go listen to either. It’s catchy, though some patches of drumming doesn’t quite work. Thankfully those are few and far between.

Look, Deth Kaktus as a band have promise. This debut displays some actual talent that needs to be explored further to strengthen it. The press release boasts “The band’s unwavering commitment to their craft is evident in the relentless revisions and rewrites each song endured until reaching their final form.” and if that’s the case then they nitpicked their compositions to the point of death. What needs to be left behind is the idol worship songs almost being covers, performances beyond four minutes that simply don’t need it, and Matt handling mastering duties. With all that said, Prick is a couple good songs stuck between way too much filler, leaving a cold first impression you’ll spin a few times then delete to make room and forget existed. Which is what this metalhead is doing when the review goes live…

Emmanuel Master (Vocals), Matt Garvey (Guitar), Sean Orozco (Guitar), Adam Osetek (Bass), J Caesar Garcia (Drums)

Digital review copy of this release provided by Wormholedeath Records.