I have very little background information about Khandra. They are a new black metal band from Minsk in Belarus. Based on the photos included in this post, the line-up appears to consist of two men, although I don’t know their identities or what musical endeavors they might have pursued before forming this alliance. It is a classic case of the music having to speak for itself.
On October 11, Khandra will release their debut EP through Bandcamp. Its title suggests the emotional cast of the music — All Is Of No Avail. The names of the two songs convey the sense of a similarly gloomy mood: “Where Death Has Settled In Life” and “Presence Is No Longer Relevant“. But what of the music itself?
Well, in a nutshell, the music is very, very good. Both songs do indeed have a bleak and despondent atmosphere, but both are also intense, dramatic, and vibrant. As somber as the melodies are, they are piercing when you first hear them, and prove to be so memorable that you may find them ringing in your head both immediately after the songs end and unexpectedly at later times.
Both songs establish and then move between different levels of speed and urgency, pushing the intensity in eruptions of blast-beat drumming and grim, seething and writhing riffs, and then changing course — with a syncopated drum rhythm in the first song and variations on a kind of swinging, rocking groove in the second one. The lead guitar sends out melodies, edged with distortion, that ring and chime, rise and fall, wail and swirl. Those melodies are mesmerizing and approach a kind of melancholy grandeur, but they are also unsettling, sometimes on the brink of discordance.
Yes indeed, dark and intense music… made even darker and more intense by the cruelty of the vocalist’s hostile growls and rising wolf-like howls of passion. But also very accomplished music, very effective at commanding the listener’s attention, and they easily catch hold in the head.
All Is Of No Avail is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp. Listen below, and burn in the flames of this sorrow.