The progressive music renaissance of late has produced a lot of new acts, yet but it says plenty that so few have really stood out. Sure, building up new djent and tech-metal scenes is all well and good, but it hardly amounts to much when so many bands start to blend together. That’s why a band like Khaidian are worth taking a look at, if only because of the extent to which they’ve accentuated to electronica in their sound rather than having it as merely another impenetrable layer.
What’s more, it’s worked to their advantage too, as ’Penumbra’ definitely has some qualities that give Khaidian the edge against so many of their peers. For one, it’s easy to see how greatly industrial elements come into their sound; there’s a clear Fear Factory influence on ’Dominion’ and ’Thrive’ in the pounding, electro-coated drums and grimy overall exterior, bringing forward a sense of discord that a lot of progressive bands seem all too reticent to embrace. Coupled with Andy Hutton’s guttural vocal delivery, there’s a darkness about this album that feels incredibly well managed.
On the other side of the coin though, it can feel a bit one-note at times, particularly in how consistently the bleak, sonorous presentation runs with few changes. Even if it’s a not a particularly long album at only seven tracks, it’s easy to get the feeling that Khaidian have gotten pretty much everything that they can from this one style here. If that’s the case, it’s commendable that they’ve kept things relatively pared-back then, and even with the relative lack of flexibility, it’s rarely a boring or not worthwhile listen.
And at this early stage, that’s enough to see Khaidian build up some real momentum, at least in some circles. ’Penumbra’ might be a pretty stark display of everything in this band’s wheelhouse up to now, but for a consistently strong and engaging listen, you can’t go far wrong here.
‘Penumbra’ by Khaidian is released on 18th January.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)