It seems easy when listening to new music to focus one’s attention entirely on the instrumental aspect of it and how the musicians are actually performing. Yet this mental trap more often than not puts the vocals in the background. Of course when one is mostly concerned with the albums coming out of the murky underbelly of brutal and extreme metal, where the majority of vocals don’t really do much to set themselves apart, it’s almost second nature to disregard the vocals. But when attempting to digest something that can barely be even considered metal like the works of Klone, the approach has to change quite a bit to allow a measure of fairness in the evaluation.
Treading a fine line between progressive rock and metal while hinting towards post-metal in some parts, the French six-piece known as Klone feels most comfortable expressing themselves with lightly distorted guitars, slightly heavy drumming and lots of clean vocals. Their fifth studio album Here Comes the Sun comes with some subtle post-rock sensibilities that are in some instances reminiscent of Russian Circles and Red Sparrowes. Right from the get go, vocalist Yann Ligner makes himself heard on the opening track “Immersion“. This is quite frankly a misleading track to begin the album with because it’s a lot heavier and darker than everything else.
After that impressive start, the album doesn’t really build up and move forward. Ligner really takes over on “Gone Up In Flames” to elevate what otherwise would have been a dull track, while the instrumental “Gleaming” and the penultimate piece “Come Undone” just sound stuck and unable to move forward with their progressions. But the whole album is not just spinning wheels. The clever layering of the guitars and bass on “Grim Dance” and the intelligent drumming on “The Drifter” offer some short-lived excitement. More importantly though, the dark, grim mood set by the album’s opening track gets finally echoed in the dramatically haunting ending track “The Last Experience” which really offers a glimpse of how much of an impact this band can make should the fellows ever venture out of their comfort zone.
This album stays in second gear for a long time, never really venturing into anything wild or dangerous. There’s an emotional side to the vocal delivery but it hardly ever shows signs of vulnerability, opting to remain rather restrained throughout. It is however a subtle and delicately textured album. In addition, the quality of the vocal performance is a big highlight on this record, but it may not be the most important factor to many listeners. Fans of Klone’s earlier works, such as 2012’s much heavier and more adventurous The Dreamer’s Hideaway, might struggle with Here Comes the Sun because of its significantly weaker first impression while others might relish this new found sound and look forward to more delicate and carefully crafted releases in the future.