Romanian quartet Katharos XIII may have started out life as a DSBM band, but their sound has massively changed and evolved over the years, and their third album Palindrome, released last fall by Loud Rage Music, moved them even further into the realms of dark ambience and jazz-inflected doom.
The majority of the record is built around a sombre, shadowy soundscape of moody synths and noirish saxophone, underpinned by some brilliantly subtle and creative drum work and topped off with the hypnotic, dramatic vocals of Manuela Marchi, resulting in a sound and style that’s unusual, and unusually captivating.
There are still occasional touches that call back to the group’s early works, including some suitably nasty harsh vocals here and there, but also entire tracks (such as haunting closer “Xavernah Glory” or the mid-album masterwork that is “Caloian Voices”) which are almost entirely stripped of any metallic elements. Even when the band maneuver toward heavier sounds, it’s more in the vein of latter-day Katatonia or Portuguese Post-Metal maestros Sinistro, using looming, lambent chords and taut, restrained rhythms to cultivate a sense of ominous weight and shivering tension just waiting to be broken.
The mysteriously named “No Sun Swims Thundered” is in that latter category. It becomes an ebbing and flowing tide of intensity, gradually building, receding, and crashing against the shores of sanity and comfort with heavyweight power and mind-bending ingenuity. The movements are enthralling and often dreamlike, but persistently disturbing, and the visual interpretation of the song by director Alexandru Das that we’re presenting today channels all of those same sensations.