Lord Spikeheart : The Adept

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Lord Spikeheart The Adept review

Auditory annihilation is Lord Spikeheart‘s mission. As a member of the now-defunct Kenyan industrial-grind outfit Duma, Spikeheart—née Martin Kanja—harnessed a kind of chaos that few metal or noise artists have applied with such potency. He’s also the founder of HAEKALU, a label that dedicates itself to releasing the darkest, heaviest music made by artists from Africa, and its inaugural release is his own solo debut, The Adept, a minefield of sonic shrapnel and blistering aggression. It sets a particularly hostile precedent, arriving as a challenge of sorts to artists that might construct like-minded gauntlets of cacophony and listeners bold enough to steel themselves for a sprint right through it.

A warning to the latter: There are few clearings of moments of rest once the bombardment is under way. Spikeheart ratchets up the intensity to eleven in opening track “TYVM,” a tangle of piercing frequencies, punishing rhythms and harsh screams scorching the atmosphere right out of the gate, its manic whirlwind akin to footwork on a burning dancefloor. “REM Fodder” feels even vaster in its weaponization of noise, yet it’s also strangely infectious in its violence, backed with eerie, spectral, wordless vocals akin to a chorus of banshees and beasts. Even when Spikeheart lets in a rare moment of levity, like the strangely playful handclap percussion of “4AM in the Mara,” he does so up against a menacing throb of distorted bass.

The scorching, scabrous atmosphere throughout The Adept is one of Spikeheart’s own making, but his list of collaborators on the album reveal both a big tent and a deep bench for even a vision this twisted. An artist like Backxwash is a natural fit for a frenzy of distortion and jackhammer beats, lending a hard-as-nails guest verse to the thunderous “33rd Degree Actress,” as is Fatboi Sharif, who doesn’t so much rap as lend an echoing chant to “Red Carpet Sleepwalker,” as if he was recorded while being swallowed by a vortex. Nairobi shredder Hybrid Intuition riffs his way through the dirty groove of “Nobody” while “Acts of God” harnesses the guttural screams of Vulture Thrust, of Botswana metal group Overthrust, in one of the rare songs to come close to more conventional metal—or at least conventional metal run through an acid waterfall.

The sheer audacity of making music that goes this hard is exactly the thing that makes it a blast to listen to. You can take that as literally as you like, but the infectiousness in music this extreme is real and undeniable. The overall experience is akin to the famous Maxell “Blown Away” ad from the late ’70s and early ’80s, only it’s a forceful enough enfilade to take your head clean off. There’s no half-stepping on The Adept—it’s go big or go to Hell. Usually both.


Year: 2024

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Lord Spikeheart The Adept review

Lord Spikeheart: The Adept

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