ALBUM REVIEW : LEANDER KILLS - Túlélő
Since the release of Túlélő in March of 2016, I have struggled and have been word-stuck, all because I had a nagging suspicion and didn’t want to publish anything before I could confirm it. Nine months later, only days before the end of the year with no more albums to look forward to, I can say now say in all confidence that Túlélő, Leander Kills’ debut album, is the uncontested best release of 2016.
As much as I thought that my favourite album this year would come from a band that I have followed and loved for years, I had to accept early on that a newcomer was most likely going to clinch that spot. Is it possible that the bands I have loved so passionately have fallen short this year? Or is it that Leander Kills’ first offering to the music gods is so far beyond all expectations that it simply couldn’t be scraped off the number one position? Let’s see! It takes precisely one listen of the track “Híd” to realize just how fiercely talented the men in the band are. Be it the high pitched guitar prowess of Máté Bodor and Miklós Czifra, the fast, jolting, and impeccably-timed drumming of Valentin Jankai, or the seemingly effortless way with which Leander Köteles flawlessly transitions between vocals that go from soulful and clean to shiver-inducingly harsh, that track alone is in a league of its own.
By keeping to their native Hungarian language throughout the album instead of attempting to overextend themselves by making an English album right away, Leander Kills also built a sort of fascinating aura of mystery around the album. For anyone who doesn’t speak Hungarian, the chords, the intonations, and the inflections have to speak for the musicians. While that might seem like an impossible feat for most, Leander Kills achieves it brilliantly.
In their quest to make the perfect album, Leander Kills recruited some heavy weight guests in the form of HCW superstar and two-time Wrestler of the Year Icarus, who provided guest vocals on “Valami Folyon,” and the astonishing Juilliard-educated, world-class violinist Ernő Kállai, whose indescribable talent was put to excellent use on the heart-wrenching track “Ketten Egyedül.” Icarus’ deeper, raspier growls provided a depth and dimension that is rarely achieved on songs featuring mostly harsh vocals, while Kállai’s performance brought drama and poignancy to the first ballad of the album. Still, despite the impressive pedigree of the guests and the band members, it is the namesake of the band that pushed Túlélő over the edge in my opinion.
(Leander Kills - Híd)
There is no denying that all the musicians responsible for the release have both talent and panache, but Leander Köteles somehow found a way to immortalize the type of pure, unbridled passion that is often kept for live performances and record it in the studio. From his striking feat on the piano and his mastery of the bass to his signature raw vocals, there is not a second of his performance on this album that does not ooze passion. It’s that obvious rapture and fervor for the music that he produces that made Túlélő the album of the year for me.
By moving away from the safe zone provided by the resounding success that was Leander Rising and starting anew, Köteles put his reputation on the line and took risks that paid off in spades. With the amalgamation of fast and harsh songs like the title track, “Szeresd Bennem,” and “Te Leszel A Párom” with softer and more delicate songs like “Este Van” and “Fényév Távolság,” Köteles and his band of adept performers created a polished product that is daring, compelling, and perfect for every mood.
By pushing their own boundaries and letting music do the talking, Leander Kills made Túlélő into a masterpiece that is a credit to all those involved in its creation. 2016 was kind and generous when it came to good music, but Máté Bodor, Miklós Czifra, Leander Köteles, and Valentin Jankai were far better than good; they were flawless.
Release date: March 16, 2017