(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by the Swiss band Khaldera.)
It was just over two years ago when I stumbled across Relief, the debut EP by Swiss instrumentalists Khaldera, and was immediately captivated by its distinctive blend of meditative calm and perfectly proportioned power. It quickly became one of my “go-to” EPs, and has remained in regular listening rotation for me ever since.
As you might imagine I was thrilled when, earlier this year, I discovered that the band were hard at work on the follow-up, to be titled Alteration, and seeing as how said follow-up was finally released on Bandcamp last Friday I felt compelled to at least write a few words about it, in the hope of introducing some fresh ears to the group’s signature brand of what I have chosen to call “Progressive Mood Metal”.
Much as it was on Relief the band’s sound is still rooted in the enigmatic Post Metal morass of the dearly-departed Isis, but on Alteration the trio of Egloff, Mechtersheimer, and Costa have wisely decided to branch out a ways from their debut, resulting in an overall warmer and more organic sounding release.
Whereas the music on their first release maintained a certain cool and measured distance from the listener – both observing and being observed in turn, conjuring images of vast and empty celestial spaces always just beyond touching distance – Alteration is a far more immediate experience, more indulgently psychedelic in atmosphere, and noticeably sludgier and groovier in its metallic essence, sounding not unlike a more meditative Intronaut in places.
And whereas the music on its predecessor followed a certain patternless pattern of sombre ebb and lucid flow, building slowly towards each climactic crescendo before dissolving and dissipating once more, the three tracks on Alteration – the soulful (and not entirely un-Gojira-like) “Impending Tempest”, the altered-state grooves of “The Inevitability of Transition”, and the timeless ambience of “Afterglow” – all have a looser, more improvisational feel, as if the Swiss shamans simply decided to let go and follow the music down whatever path it chose to lead them.
Perhaps then it’s best to characterise this as “Mescaline Metal”, designed to help you close your eyes and really see the music.
And who doesn’t want to try that, at least once?