Ahma ("Wolverine") was formed in 1995, and released four demos before their debut EP "Slothful & Vile" which was published in 2007. The following three years of recording silence ended in 2011, when the group published their first full-lenght album "Crooked Issue." This is the first record I've come to hear from the group, so I have no idea if and how their style has changed over the years.

The first couple of times I listened through the album, it felt very disjointed. A few spins later I noticed that there indeed is a red line that goes through the group's songs, although it takes some time to get used to it. Ahma mixes raw and groovy rock together with modern metal and Metallica-influences in the riffs, and throws in a quite a few abrupt tempo-changes and wild guitar solos as well as other similar spices and twists to give the album a lot of content for the listener to digest. For example, the opener relies on steady mid-pace rhythms, but explodes into movement in it's synth-backed chorus, until a guitar solo comes in during its latter half. Song four is a threatening piece that opens up with a bass and acoustic guitar that constantly pick up their pace, until the electric guitars unleash their churning during the first chorus. Song five ranges from blastbeats to its ambient-like end part with female vocals, "Luddite Forces" is a minute-long piece of hillbilly-polka, and "Killing Stubborn" is like a light rock-hit that's been covered in heaviness and dirt.

One of the main things that tie all the different songs together is the really powerful and loud soundscape. The bass guitar and the drums sound clear, but hold a great amount of power that gives the album a really strong drive and makes the songs lively. The bass guitar has a hint of jamming touch which gives the songs some additional groove, and the drums create a forceful and steady backbone that keeps the songs in their place; you can really feel each drum hit, and especially the bass drums make an impact. The other things that bind the album together are the group's relentless attitude of executing each riff, fill and vocal line with full intensity, and the rhythm-filled songs having enough freer jamming moments and solos that keep the listener from becoming numb to the energy. The vocalist must also be mentioned as one of the key things that give the songs the "Ahma-feel," as his slightly distorted and plain manly rock'n'roll-shouts really lift the songs to another level.

Visually the album is simplistic; just a few "shattered" drawings are placed on a red background. An effective and stylish approach, for sure, and one that fits Ahma's twisted music. Same could be said about the lyrics as well, as they approach such global issues as stupidity, questionable morals, herd-behaviour, apocalyptic visions, consumerism and holiness through complex phrases and obscure, even absurd themes. They take a while to digest, as the songs do musically as well, but it only makes them even more fitting to the music itself. A solid package of dilemmas and paranoia.

The band has crafted good songs, but didn't settle for the initial results and decided to see how far they can be stretched. For the most part this stretching manifested itself through good results; the only actually flawed piece I found is the song "N+1" due to its dull and too repetitive vocal lines. The basic structures were modified to add some freely flowing riffing to the songs, and overall this combination of freely flowing energy and the more controlled rhythms and shredding turned out great. The album holds a lot of musical data which varies more than one can initially even fathom to grasp, but this variation and the album's sheer amount of power and energy are the things that make "Crooked Issue" an album that lasts for a great amount of spins.

Despite all the album's good qualities, it's still just the debut of the group; they're experienced with their sound, but it seems as if they haven't yet fully mastered their style, which results in the album seemingly losing its destination and point at times. Ahma presents something you most likely haven't heard before, but they still have work to do in improving their strenghts and in binding the different aspects of their style tighter together.

8 / 10