In the best possible way, there’s only one thing to say during and once this album is over playing — what the actual fuck was that?

Release date: August 27, 2021 | APF Records | Facebook | BandcampSpotify

I like to use the word ‘wild’ a lot, whether it’s casually or in reviews. I have to emphasize that this time, I mean it in the superlative sense of the word when I say that this album is fucking wild. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw this at first. The album art is fairly abstract and vague, but as soon as I started listening to the first single I knew I was in for an absolute treat. Upon ingesting the record wholly, I caught a fair glimpse at what Stalker and respectively, Utopia is. Initially I was tempted to chalk the album to the mathcore area of things, but it’s not that simple.

There’s a metric fuckton of things going on in this record. I’m not exaggerating, it’s so much that I’m still having trouble piecing all the threads in my head and honestly, I think I’m going to stop trying. It’s a mammoth, stylistically speaking. Its fundament definitely lays somewhere between mathcore and metal, while the frame seems to be a progressively inclined thing which also draws a fair deal from sludge. Then the ornaments and the façade seem to take cues from jazz, and ambient or post-rock. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like this. It can be extremely chaotic and brutal, serene and groovy, straight-up progressive madness, sometimes all within the same song.

Take, for example, the second track, “Full Length Biography”: it starts with an electronically infused, groovy yet dissonant segment, which is then topped off with a crazed frenzy of shrieks, only to dive into some atmospheric stuff which bares some semblance to jazz, only to get back to the whirlwind of chaos at some point. It’s a highly eclectic approach to blending styles, yet there’s something about it that feels organic — it just works.

I’d like to underline that the chaotic mathcore edge and the progressive leaning are sometimes delivered in a manner that’s filled to the brim with technical prowess. It doesn’t feel like the members of Utopia are showing off in any way either, I feel like the amount of virtuosity is sufficient in capitalizing on each end that needs an extra kick like that. Obviously, the performance aspect is without reproach: everyone is on their absolute A game and everything appears flawless. The amount of detail crammed into the record signals that this is a highly deliberate piece of work, where not even the smallest break between riffs was left to chance.

The record has a nice flow as you take it in from top to bottom, although it can feel like a little much to do it again immediately after. Aside from being dense and compelling, it’s quite a fair deal of fun to listen to as well. It definitely keeps you in there and I can’t detect any moments that I could call dips of any kind. It uses its diversity quite effectively to create highly disparate soundscapes and scenery.

Stalker is frothing at its seams with action and it can barely wait to unleash itself upon any and all unsuspecting listeners. Utopia know what’s up and they deliver a surprisingly consistent and promising debut, one of the finest, generally speaking, if you ask me. I can honestly barely wait to see where the madness is headed next.

Robert Miklos

Robert Miklos

What can I say? I love slapping keys and listening to squiggly air.

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