An Excellent Instrumental Effort
As an instrumental band, Shakhtyor differentiate their debut from the current stoner-doom trend by letting the music—not the vocals—do the talking. Lacking a frontman isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it does wonders by allowing the songs to breathe and by creating room for experimentation. But in the absence of a vocalist, it loses the much-needed character a voice provides and, consequently, makes it tough to gain widespread exposure.
As expected, a large following isn’t what an instrumental band looks for when putting together a record. More often than not, it’s about the artistry itself and not about the amount of fans in tow to the next gig, quantity of album sales, or a chart-topping Billboard position. Instead, it’s about the high of making music for personal enjoyment and letting the creative juices flow.
Shakhtyor has that in spades, of course, with tracks that cycle between sluggish and mid-paced tempos. Each song on the record, thanks to extended lengths, feels like a surreal experience that listeners can immerse themselves in for days, even weeks, on end. The debut really is very engrossing and like the musical equivalent of discovering uncharted territory.
At the same time, though, it isn’t anything new, despite being an excellent first effort. The opener, “E. Japser,” trudges along at a slower pace than the rest of the album—as the high-hat accents measure-long chords—and sounds absolutely immense in execution. That colossal feeling is what makes the debut so excellent because there’s always anticipation as one imagines what’s on the horizon. Without vocals, the album is unpredictable. It’s unforgiving. And most of all, it’s cold. And that’s exactly what Shakhtyor intended.
Likewise, the remainder of the material, while just as merciless and chaotic, zooms along a bit faster. “Handschuhmann” mixes a combination of ambience and heavy riffs, “Паук Риба” experiments with dynamics, and “K.I.” tumbles with spontaneous drumming and high distortion. There’s something for everyone here regardless of musical preference, and the band has done excellent job of ensuring nearly every listener will leave satisfied.