Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kali Ma's voiceless howl

Why should jazz guys and jam bands get all the instrumental glory? Kali Ma is fixing that. The Connecticut quartet is pure metal, and recently captured its prog-meets-thrash ferocity on a self-titled CD/DVD package.

Whether your framework for instrumental metal is Meshuggah’s too-brief “Obsidian” or Metallica’s classic “Call of Ktulu,” Kali Ma pushes at those boundaries with songs that are brutal and vivid.

Without needing to make room for a singer, guitarists Roy Moore and Todd Whitlock are untamed, turning their progressive leads and riff structures a little grimy and dirty. One of the best things about Kali Ma’s instro approach is that the band doesn’t treat its metal as precious.

Bassist Jay Madore and drummer Shawn Cavanaugh keep things dynamic as the guitarists bear down. The rhythm section navigates a course that keeps the music is a state of tension between heavily down-tuned chug and purely melodic thrash.

Aside from “Death March,” the tunes performed live for the CD and DVD are simply numbered compositions_ not jams, but precisely arranged tunes that coalesce around sonic themes. “XIV” is mournful; “XVIIII” veers into a spacey interlude; and “XVIII” is pure ode to thrash.

“Death March” is featured all over the new package, becoming something of the band’s signature anthem. It opens the series of live tracks recorded at the Daniel Street Club. It is also part of the studio recordings making up the second part of the CD. And the band worked with Edwin Escobar to create a long-form video for the song that unspools on the DVD like a vintage slasher flick – again no words, just music and visuals.

The concert footage on the DVD is likewise well shot and brings the viewer right on stage to get a glimpse of these guys at work, not to mention their effect on a metal audience. Definitely not the norm for a metal show, but why be normal?

The Kali Ma CD/DVD package is available online through the band’s Facebook page and you can catch Kali Ma live on these upcoming dates:

Nov. 16 at Bleachers in Bristol, CT; Nov. 21 at Dewey's Pub in Seymour, CT (This is a benefit show to help raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims); Nov. 24 at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, CT; Dec. 1 at The Cave RVP Studios in West Haven, CT; and Dec.14 with Diecast at Dewey's Pub in Seymour, CT.

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