Khaidian – Penumbra

London’s Khaidian, while not exactly new to the UK’s DIY metal scene, start 2019 off with ambition to set themselves apart from the herd. Not content to be catalogued as one thing or the other, the foursome present to us their debut record Penumbra (Armalyte Industries) in the hopes to push Metal’s boundaries with their blend of poly-rhythmic technicality and electronic flair.

‘Pearls Before Swine’ starts the record strong with a typical chugging, Tech riff and subtle electronics layered underneath. It sets the tone for the rest of the record going forward with a machine-like appeal, particularly when the catchy chorus bleeds into this hint of old school drum and bass. It’s a small touch but does a lot to get you in the groove for what’s to come. ‘Dominion’ is much more mid-tempo than its predecessor, and while it still has the same mechanised character to it in its rumbling delivery, it is not as immediate as Penumbra’s opener, which sadly becomes a familiar sensation as the record progresses.

‘Scene Of The Spherical’ was released last month to promote the record with a music video that displays the bands aesthetic rather well, using an amalgam of different liquids and chemicals to almost create the effect of cells multiplying and reacting to each note. It shows that the band are more than capable when paring bright, striking visuals with their music. This fastidiousness isn’t diminished on the record’s production either thanks to Tim Turan’s (Cradle of Filth, Dyscarnate, Martyr Defiled) mastering and guitarist John Tyrell’s programming prowess that makes the electronic remix of ‘Scene Of The Spherical’ a welcome break from the record’s format.

Andy Hutton’s vocals do a good job of accurately representing the ethereal nature of the record, particularly on ‘Pearls Before Swine’ where his voice soars over the Sikth-like riffing. ‘Trigger The Landslide’ and ‘Evasion’ boast the most memorable, groove-laden moments. His delivery is consistent, if somewhat lacking in variation that might have benefited from more intensity.

What also sticks in the memory, and slightly in the craw, is that Penumbra doesn’t have enough of the Trance-like Electronica or filthy Dubstep drops the band’s biography makes claim to. They crop up here and there, but incorporating these two rather broad musical styles into metal isn’t exactly a fresh prospect so it has to truly hypnotic or downright dirty to set it apart from other bands attempting the same methodology. As a result, I was left waiting for a smack round the face from a drop that never actually happened. ‘Dramatic Professions Of Martyrdom’ does a better job of incorporating this style more effectively, but using the last song of the record (not counting the remix of ‘Scene Of The Spherical’) to flesh out these ideas feels a tad too late.

Penumbra is a technically proficient, crisp sounding display of Khaidian’s ambition but the best is yet to come as its execution doesn’t quite live up to the boundary-pushing hopes the band have.

5 / 10