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Album premiere: Calgary project Arbitrator’s debut is fully loaded with anti-religious arsenal

Friday 06th, February 2015 / 10:00
By Sarah Kitteringham
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Arbitrator mastermind Robert Kukla. The band’s debut, Indoctrination of Sacrilege, is slated for release Friday, Feb. 13.
Photo: Paul Keely

BeatRoute is proud to premiere the full album stream of Arbitrator’s full-length debut Indoctrination of Sacrilege. The album will be available until it is released on Friday, February 13. 

CALGARY — The metal world has many household producer names that inspire sonic correlations. Kurt Ballou conjures visions of Entombed worship hardcore; Billy Anderson is correlated to filthy, tar-coated sludge; Dan Swanö’s fingerprints are smudged all over progressive extreme metal; Tomas Skogsberg breathed death into the abrasive buzzsaw of ‘90s black and death metal. Jens Borgen carries his own connotations, capturing clean, groovy death metal for clients as diverse as Bloodbath, Opeth, Arch Enemy and Kreator. Hence why Calgary project Arbitrator wanted him to master their full-length debut Indoctrination of Sacrilege, on which they deliver 40 minutes of pristine, howling death metal with industrial deviations.

Borgen isn’t the only brand name featured on the album, though. Belgian Dirk Verbeuren (of Soilwork, ex-Devin Townsend Project, ex-Aborted fame) provided drumming; ominous artist Colin Marks (Aborted, Exodus, Scar Symmetry, Jeff Loomis) penned the burning idol against a blackened sky artwork. Alberta and British Columbia based musicians and producers helped round out the project, including a solo from guitarist Myles Malloy, help from programmer Connor ORT Linning and producing/mixing from Calgary wunderkind Sacha Laskow. The list doesn’t answer the big question, though: how did a relatively unknown Calgary project rope in such big names?

“I was working 64-hour weeks for three or four months straight,” says band mastermind Robert Kukla, laughing. As an apprentice electrician, Kukla knew he’d need to pay for their contributions, doing so because “I was less worried about gathering live musicians and more was worried about making the best record I could probably make.”

As a guest musician or person helping out in the studio, Kukla has already worked with local bands like AfterEarth, Shark Infested Daughters, Lie Among Us and Hammerdrone, learning the value and process of a session contributor. In addition, he released Arbitrator’s debut 2011 EP The Consummate Ascendancy (which was mixed and mastered by no less than Dan Swanö) while still underage with drummer bandmate Corey Chernesky. Eventually, the two butted heads over the band’s direction and Kukla decided his brainchild would be better suited to the studio environment.

“I wanted to do the writing mostly by myself, I could have outside producers and all that stuff, but I wanted to hire musicians to play that,” he says. Now, at the impressively young age of 21, he has a seriously professional, streamlined record on his hands for which he did vocals, guitars, bass, synthetics, composition, production and drum programming. Indeed, Indoctrination of Sacrilege sounds like it was spawned from the Swedish death metal scene in the ‘90s, complete with interludes that mock religiosity, jackhammer drums, dry cookie- monster roaring vocals and keyboards that occasionally dance above the thunderous mix. To boot, it’s already received props from BloodyDisgusting.com, Metal Devastation Radio and Decibel Magazine.

“It is industrial, blasphemous, epic, gothic, symphonic, all powerful death metal,” describes Kukla. The “blasphemous” theme is omnipresent; the band’s name refers to the Antichrist who appears during the end times to judge both the living and the dead.

“I hated the closed-mindedness of the religious,” says Kukla, who was born into Catholicism and eventually became disillusioned with its mythos and penchant for believing its way of enacting Christianity was superior to other sects enactment of Christianity. This frustration was fuel for Arbitrator, whose songs are nearly exclusively battering, save for brief (very slightly “prettier”) interludes, such as the soloing in “Stillborn Bastard of the Nazarene.”

“I had a sound, that I had in my head, that I wanted,” he concludes. “I wanted to make a perfect band for my years. So it has all these outside musicians that I really liked. For sure, I had to work a lot of overtime when I was putting this stuff together, but in the end, it was killer.”

Indoctrination of Sacrilege comes out via digital download on Friday, February 13th. You can pre-order it or purchase it after the 13th for $7.  

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