Abomination, the new album from Iowa metal outfit Rehtek, contains all the ingredients for a pummeling musical feast. Chunky guitar riffage — check. Gut-rumbling bass — check. Double-time kick drums at speed-metal velocities — check. Growling, howling vocals — double-check.
“Our influences are vast,” frontman Colton Davenport said. “We listened to everything from thrash, death metal and nu metal, to core. For that reason, it’s always been hard to pinpoint our style. We incorporate so many different elements, which is what I’ve always loved about this band.”
Guitarists Joe Youngbear and his brother Mythias Keahna conjure up an eclectic range of sounds, and the same can be said of Davenport’s vocals on Abomination. The album’s first song, “Archon,” begins with a rush of crushing instrumentation until his grindcore growls fill the track — while other songs, like “Prism,” feature a mix of screams and melodic singing with harmonized double-tracked vocals. Never a dull moment with this album.
“I try not to be boring,” Youngbear told me. “When the music gets very dynamic, sometimes you’ve got to slow it down, and then sometimes you’ve got to give it some power. When I’m writing, I just go with what moves me.”
Hailing from Tama, a small Iowa town with a population of 3,000, Rehtek has spent the last decade immersed in the Midwestern metal scene after getting their start playing local bars in the summer of 2011.
“Me and four other kids came together that year in the hopes of creating something special,” Davenport said. “It started with a few acoustic songs and eventually transformed into the machine that is Rehtek.”
Rehtek found a second home in Des Moines, gigging regularly in that city and throughout the rest of the region as they shared bills with Saliva, Devour the Day, American Head Charge, Dead Horse Trauma, Apathy Syndrome and other major metal acts.
“We spent those first few years earning our stripes and making a name for ourselves,” Davenport said. “We took the local music scene by storm and made a lot of great friends along the way. Our experiences with the metal scene have been pretty great for the most part, especially in Des Moines. We’ve gotten so much love and support there. It’s always been like a second home for us. So many good bands with so much positive energy.”
Born in central Iowa, Davenport spent his earliest years moving around with his family before settling in Tama when he was about 8.
“There’s not a whole lot to look at here,” Davenport said. “There’s a lot of cornfields around, as you can imagine with any small town in Iowa. We have a beef plant, a couple of different small businesses here and there. But it is home, and it’s the hometown of our tribe, the Meskwaki Nation. It was there I really found myself and developed into the man I am today.”
Davenport first got into metal after discovering Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark At the Moon album, and then gravitated to heavier music like Metallica, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, Korn and Cannibal Corpse. Davenport always had an interest in the arts, especially music, and once he found his bandmates, it was on.
“Even as a child I knew I wanted to sing in a metal band,” he said. “It wasn’t until we actually started Rehtek that I worked up enough courage to sing in front of anyone.”
Youngbear — the band’s guitarist, engineer and producer — is also from Tama, where he attended the Meskwaki Settlement School, a tribal school that is operated by the Meskwaki Nation, which Youngbear, Davenport and Keahna — the three remaining original band members — all belong to.
“That is one of the things that really helped us bond, when it came to the experience of creating music,” Davenport said. “We’re all very much involved in our culture. And we draw a lot of inspiration from our culture when it comes to making our music.”
By way of example, the singer pointed to “O.I.T.N.,” a song from the new album that begins with a powerful boom boom boom sound.
“We actually got that idea for the opening drum beat from the pow wow drums that we use here at our ceremonies,” Davenport said. “Some of the lyrical subject matter is loosely centered around our legends and our stories. I mean, the culture is very much alive here, and you’ll hear some of those influences come through in our music from time to time.”
Youngbear’s Godzilla-sized riffs and layers of noise help define Rehtek’s sound, which at times is reminiscent of the bottom-heavy rumble produced by Brazil’s greatest metal export, Sepultura, which also blends heavy rock with influences from their own country’s indigenous music.
Drummer Dylan Main and bassist Julian Williams are newcomers to the band, which had been on hiatus since 2019, and Youngbear said they had been debating whether to continue as a band until they decided to make another album.
“My brother Mythias has always been onboard,” he said. “Julian, the bass player, was a coworker of mine and a good friend, and Dylan is a great drummer, so we all got together and it just clicked.”
Abomination — which was produced and engineered by Youngbear in his home studio — grabs listeners by the collar for 36 minutes before ending with a heavy da-da-dum riff as Davenport’s a capella howl hangs in the air. All killer and no filler, it leaves listeners wanting more.
“Abomination, in many ways, is like a rebirth for this band,” Davenport said. “We introduced a whole new sound for this band, and we’ve introduced two new members, Julian and Dylan. I’m proud to say that despite some of the changes, we are just as energetic and as hungry as we’ve ever been.”
Kembrew McLeod is a lover not a fighter. This article was originally published in Little Village’s August 2022 issues.