Amalgamated groups of musicians joining forces to create “something completely different” can often result in the spectacular (as witnessed with the Roadrunner United record) and the sublime (think Josh Homme and his ominous Desert Sessions).
Bringing yet another flavour to the table, members of Cult Of Luna, The Perishers and Deportees have formed Khoma, an experiment in total creative freedom, and as musical reconnaissance missions go this one is an overwhelming success.
Opener Guillotine is a brooding slice of melancholy which sets the standard for Khoma’s sound – epic but not self-involved; heavy but not for the sake of it; and more importantly defying genre labels with a passion.
Stop Making Speeches beats its way in like a Tool battle hymn, with snarling but muted guitars getting a brief blast of euphoric freedom as Jan Jamte wails his away with an unusually haunting beauty. Hyenas is more than a touch influenced by Oxford indie gods Radiohead, and if you have ever wondered what the appropriate soundtrack to space exploration is, then your search is over.
Through Walls picks up the pace, providing some uplifting harmonies that cut through the mix with power. Like Coming Home is yet another fine example of the dexterous nature this band has at fashioning incredible atmospheres in five-minute slots, and whilst further echoes of British rock (a la Muse) can once again be discerned, there is a prominent element of aural optimism in Khoma’s sound, which sets them apart from the hordes of indie rock acts out there.
Asleep is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful songs you will hear this year; the type of song that should’ve been created in time for a film like Donnie Darko. In short, it blows Gary Jules and his flat cap out of the water.
Whilst I’m sure Khoma really couldn’t really give a monkey’s which category they are dumped under in your local music vending establishment, I feel it’s important to note that just because these members of already established “harder” acts have technically made a “softer” album, this does NOT mean they have “gone emo” or anything else so tragically clichéd.
According to vocalist Jan, Khoma is based on the premise that “sometimes, whispering can be more powerful than screaming.” In actual fact, what these Swedish gentlemen have created is an album that exhibits some of the most sincere, honest and uncompromising music that is extraordinarily heavy but in unexpected dimensions.
You can call The Second Wave “post-whatever-you-like-core” but if you are one of the few dreamers who believes music can speak to the soul then Khoma have created this album just for you. If you only buy one album outside of your “comfort zone” this year, make it this one.