(Razzia Records, 2010)
If I had to be pinned down and asked where in the world I would most like to live, then along with the standard answers (San Francisco, Canada, Iceland, anywhere but England really) would be a slightly odd choice, and a place I know very little about. It’s a Swedish town called Umea, population less than 100k, and I have no idea what it looks like. It could be a complete concrete hellhole for all I know, populated by molemen and psychotic katana wielding tramps. The reason I would like to live there is that it seems to have provided me with a bigger chunk of my music collection than any other location. Refused? Check. Meshuggah? Check. Cult of Luna? Check. Khoma? Check.
If you are not familiar with Khoma, they are a side project of Cult of Luna who manage to be that rare thing, a non-metal band who have the sonic density you would expect from their townmates. Their album, ‘The Second Wave‘ was a breathtaking exercise in morbid downbeat indie, coupled with the crushing production of a Cult of Luna album. It took in everything from Radiohead to Joy Division to Sigur Ros, to Isis, to Neurosis, to Cult of Luna, to Stabbing Westwood, to Filter, to Smashing Pumpkins, to…well you get the picture.
All of which is to say they are one of those rare bands whose influences you can never quite pin down. They are unique, yet familiar. Vocalist Jan Jamte has a voice that is soaring and epic, and evocative as well, with every note dripping in sadness in a way that Ian Curtis managed so effortlessly. And yet at any moment you expect a guttural roar to wash over you. ‘The Second Wave‘ was one of my favourite albums of 2006, and so their follow up, ‘A Final Storm‘ is much anticipated. Except not by everybody, it seems. It is not being released on Roadrunner, their previous label, and whilst it has done very well in Sweden, where it has entered the top 20 album chart, I can’t see that it is due a release here, or who it would be through. There are no tours lined up, and no press exposure. I don’t know if our record buying public will ever be able to get this except through import or more nefarious means.
Which would be a crying shame, as this is a cracking album. Every bit as majestic and soaring as its predecessor, the weighty bits have the same guitar tone as the last CoL album (which is to say deft of touch and heavy as fuck) and Jan‘s vocals are every bit as evocative and moving as before. There is a bit more variety here than was on their previous effort, with opener ‘Army of One‘ certainly heavier than anything they’ve done before, and ‘Osiris‘ coming across as the sort of tune that Billy Corgan should be writing if he hadn’t disappeared so spectacularly up his own wrinkled sphincter. But for the most part this is just as dour and gloriously downbeat is you would expect from them.
If you liked ‘The Second Wave‘ then you will be just as impressed as this, which treads roughly the same path but manages to add tones and subtlety (not to mention additional wrist slitting depression) to an already interesting sonic mix. If you are unfamiliar with them, and you like to compliment the raging metal you listen to with depressing as fuck music made by fey indie types who look like they’ve never known the love of a good woman, then you may just have a new favourite band. If you ever get to hear it, that is.