Coming from the Grimey Montreal underground, Katö have made their debut as one of the best doom rock bands around. M39 is a ruthless forty-minute album that cuts no corners and delivers all kinds of heavy punches, riffs, solos, sludgy vocals, hooks, and more riffs. Recorded at Planet Studios in only twenty-four hours by Jordan Barillaro, the sessions captured a pure, unrefined energy that burns its way through a nasty mix. It incorporates elements of stoner, doom, metal, and thrash, but does so while maintaining a no-pussyfooting rock n’ roll swagger.
The opening track is a simple example, easy enough for everyone to understand what the deal is. “14g de Marde” starts with an iron-heavy riff, continuous with the same iron-heavy riff, and is actually the same iron-heavy riff the entire song. The vocal tandem of Bullroyce y el Gringö is harsh and vulgar. The only way to compete with heavy riffs is with heavier vocals. The song is complete with an introduction to Bullroyce’s masterful guitar-solo work that is apparent throughout the album. The solos scream and are played with a heavy hand, but they serve the song and don’t get too wanky, and the vocal hook for this song will play in your head all day: “Donne-moi mon Katö, Donne-moi Katö osti.”
You’re broken in, and yes it gets better. “L’Herbologue” was released as a single for the album, and follows suit. A big part of this album is the catchy vocal hooks that litter the otherwise stoner-doom sound mantra. This track has another strong chorus, both with the hook and the delivery. Although the bass, guitar, and vocals all do a huge part in pushing this sound forward, it would absolutely be incomplete without Bucci on drums. The dude flips his sticks upside down and goes to town on whatever poor kit is at his mercy. The drumming performances on this song and across this album are monstrous. This trio is the holy trinity of vulgarity, power, and swagger.
Gringö’s fuzzed-out bass picks up the next track called “Johnny Ti-Couteau.” As it does time and time again, Gringö’s bass is locked with the relentless fever of Bucci’s drumming and delivers a heavily distorted low-end punch to this whole sound. Just to keep you up to speed, we’re now 3/3 for songs with stellar chorus hooks at this point in this album. The pace is picked up considerably for this tune and has that gnarly late 80’s thrash drive to it. Whereas a lot of stoner albums these days cruise at the same pace front to back, M39 kicks it into gear a bunch of time and hauls ass.
Another good example of this is “J’ai l’Blues.” It’s the most destructive blues you’ve probably ever heard. The main riff is just a huge fucking party. If you ever need a quick fix to get yourself into it, listen to this track. Easily my favourite track of the album, I dig how simple it is. Yo, the guy has the blues, goddamit, and you will also fuck your face with this riff. C’est pas facile.
The last song you’ll hear on the way out of this trip will be “Forgé dans la Marde,” an ode to the origin story of the band. Coming from the sweaty, grimy depths of the Montreal underground scene, Katö is a band that keeps it real and embraces their origins. Singing 100% in French puts them in a category all their own, as not many francophone doom bands tend to belt it in their mother tongue. In this song and throughout the album you hear the many influences that these guys proudly wear on their sleeves: Sabbath, Metallica, and Kyuss.
If their release party for this album was any indication of the waves these dudes will catch, it’ll be a good ride. Read the review for that show here.
Written by Ben Cornel
*edited by Kate Erickson