ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Penumbra’ by Khaidian

Penumbra is the debut album from London based Khaidian. This release is long over due for the metal quartet who originally formed back in 2010. Eight years of line up changes and musical experimentation give this band a complex history. Khaidian merge metal and electronica in their music, something that is not unusual for metal bands with many merging these styles, and genres such as tech-metal have been growing quickly over the past few of years.

From an initial listen to Penumbra, it is clear that Khaidian are diverging from other metal bands in the way that they merge electronica influences into their tracks. Their music is very guitar heavy, with electronica being quite subtle in some places but its presence makes a huge difference to the sound. Trigger The Landslide is a good example of this. The introduction consists of a synth build up which is dark and quite muted in tone. This blends seamlessly into the heavily distorted guitars which dominate the verse. The synths continue to run beneath the guitars but blend easily into the mix. The tone of Andy Hutton’s vocals is also very dark which gives Khaidian a Gothic quality and contributes further to the uniqueness of their sound. The vast majority of bands who merge electronica and metal tend to use bright sounding synths which gives a greater contrast between the electronic and metal parts of their music; an obvious example of this, which many people will be familiar with, is Bring Me The Horizon’s Can You Feel My Heart. The bright tone of the trade mark synth riff stands out significantly against the distorted instrumentation.

A range of genres and styles are present across the album. Deathcore influences make subtle appearances with sections of fast drumming, heavy riffs and aggressive rhythms. Thrive contains some of these influences; it and Sense Of The Spherical also contain intricate guitar melodies, polyrhythms and developed motifs, reflective of the tech-metal guitar style used by bands such as Architects and Monuments. As the album progresses, the levels of experimentation with both the synths and instrumentation increase. Sense Of The Spherical sees not only the guitars developed further but also the introduction of synths with slightly brighter tones and harsher textures. This style continues into the following track on the album, Evasion. The edgier, more industrial metal style synths contrasted with the aggressive guitar tones creates a hauntingly dark sound. The gothic influences remain present in the style of vocal line but also progress into more extreme, horror and dystopian atmospheres. Manipulation of the synth outro and Hutton’s vocals adds further depth to the track. The remix of Sense Of The Spherical introduces some interesting styles with ’90s house style drums, synth injections and RnB style bouncing motifs. It feels somewhat strange after the dark atmosphere of the album however, it works.

Khaidian have clearly been working hard on developing and fine tuning their sound for nearly a decade, and Penumbra shows this. The diversity of sounds and styles included illustrates that Khaidian are a band of talented musicians and songwriters with a passion for what they do. This debut release gives a great insight into their abilities. However, it does feel like the boundaries of these genres and sounds could be pushed further – something which will hopefully be explored in any future releases by the band.

8/10

For fans of: Architects, Monuments, SikTh
Words by Holly Royle

‘Penumbra’ by Khaidian is released on 18th January.

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