I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no feeling quite like an album leaping out from the inbox and hitting me across the face like a bolt of lightning. There’s something about the random discovery of an album, just from clicking a link on a PR email or a Bandcamp link, that seems to amplify the joy of finding greatness. Of course, the album has to be great for that to happen but don’t worry; Khirki‘s Κτηνωδία (which translates to Brutality) is indeed great. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s bloody great. The album effortlessly channels the vibes of bands like The Sword, Red Fang, and Clutch (mostly analogous to the early careers of those bands, by the way) while blending those sounds with folk music from the band’s native Mediterranean. The end result is an album that knows how to be fast and heavy but is also often evocative and emotionally complex. You can stream said album right here, in full, ahead of its release tomorrow!
Starting at the beginning, with opening “Deadpan” is probably a good idea; you can immediately hear where I got all of the above comparisons from. The drums are fast, galloping along side that infectiously groove main riff, backed up by that deep, redolent bass. The last piece of the puzzle are the vocals, which get better and better as the track continues; near the end they hit that sweet spot just below the realms of screams which I love on this type of music. But the album has a lot more to offer than “just” those basic stoner metal/rock elements. Near the beginning of “Deadpan”, in a brief bridge, you can hear those Mediterranean folk elements, in the form of more tinny drums and a meter drawn straight from local musical traditions.
If you flip over to “Medea”, my favorite track on the album, you can hear those elements being used even more prominently. Following a quieter, introductory passage, about two minutes long, those drums return and usher in the boisterous middle passage. There, folk instruments blend with fuzzy guitars and raspy vocals which make all of those references above extremely clear. And as if that wasn’t enough, the band add in an amazing guest violin spot to add an extra sheen of celebration and storytelling to the mix.
Whew! There’s a lot more I could go over, like the touching “Wolf’s Lament” or the groovy “Black and Chrome”. But the bottom line is that there’s a lot to love about Κτηνωδία. Everything on the album blends together into an unstoppable whole, with Khirki expertly wielding what might have fallen in the hands of less skilled musicians. Make sure you head on above to pre-order the album and, while you’re there, consider buying a shirt featuring the excellent cover art; they rule!