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Review: Kin Beneath Chorus – Invia

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Hailing from Greece, melodic death metallers Kin Beneath Chorus will be releasing their new album ‘Invia’ on the 12th of May. Having listened to Septic Flesh and Rotting Christ for many years, I was very keen to hear what other bands Greece had to offer, and am pleased to say that Kin Beneath Chorus have the potential to be a breath of fresh air to what currently passes for melodic death metal.

The album opens with ‘The March’, a song with a cryptic intro transitioning into a rocking track that never has a dull moment, perhaps this is the song they should use to open at every concert, by getting the crowd ready for battle and then sentencing them into merciless onslaught. In particular, their vocalist Nasus Mishopoulos is flawless almost throughout the entire album; while obviously having good harsh vocals for both highs and lows, he surprises us with traditional clean heavy metal vocals dating as far back as thrash metal in ’86, and further still, he even puts in the occasional hardcore shout to use. The guitars, as listeners will come to appreciate, play rather simple yet very catchy riffs throughout the song and most of the album.

‘Higher than Man’ opens with traditional heavy vocals and some very articulate and inter-twining guitar work – something the kids will definitely want to learn on guitar. Moving on to what seems to be the first verse, there are some death metal growls over honest breakdowns – honest meaning, there was no unrealistic-sounding cut-and-paste interference from the engineering side of things. While the song mostly flows well, the guitar lead break comes in building the expectation that it is going to escalate into a truly magnificent solo as there are even some tight breakdowns complementing it perfectly, but unfortunately, the lead break didn’t really go anywhere, it just sort of stayed in place – I think it really could have amounted to something more.

An intriguing xylophone-like tune is what marks the beginning and end of ‘Session XII’, moving onto a breakdown that is coated by a sweep-picked lead that would actually please many metalcore and deathcore kids. The verse and chorus is great all-round as there is a lot of melodic tremolo-picking happening, and the ultra-fast double-kick segments are also one of the many high points in the song. The bridge transitioned very well – often it is a risky process to slow down a song when it has such powerful momentum – but they pulled it off nicely with a guitar harmony and much build-up before launching back into momentum, with some added variations in the guitar work. To conclude the song, we get to hear some more of that breakdown from the beginning as it fades back into the xylophone-sounding tune.

Now, if there is one thing I have learned from all the years I’ve listened to music, it is to never have high expectations from an album’s title track. Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking, so I will need you to shut up for a minute, and listen. ‘Invia’ starts as a dreamy intro to a chorus using traditional cleans backed by guitars that would make you think you were listening to a rock band – something I really admire. Verses use harsh and traditional vocals alike backed by tremolos and blast beats, turning it into the ultimate rock-metal song some of us have been waiting to hear for many years. The great thing about the chorus is that it has just the right amount of repetitions between ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’. The flow of the bridge transitions its way to a fading point where you think the song will end… but then, a very slow rock outro takes over as if waving farewell… Oh yeah, and the reason I said that you should never have high expectations of an album’s title track is because (a) you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment, and (b) your experience without the distraction of an expectation will prove to be so much better, and that’s exactly what this song was for me, one of the best songs on the whole album.

For the next track, I think that if this band is having any plans on making a video clip, choosing a song for a radio, or applying for a new label, ‘White Light’ would be one of the songs they may want to promote. For one, though there are fewer traditional cleans than other songs, this is a track that has no actual flaws coming to mind. Secondly, with the number of tasty riffs, blast beats, and death growls in this song, I can imagine many Kataklysm, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and older Sepultura fans immediately taking notice. Let us hope that Nuclear Blast will be among them.

‘Those Days’ is the melancholy song of the album, which is good as I think it’s important that every decent metal album has at least one. Vocally, there is plenty of traditional cleans that add so much emotion and soul to the song, and also plenty of harsh vocals that highlight struggle. The guitar riffs carry a variation of sad-sounding melodies, and the transition to faster segments to blast beats works well with the tremolo picking. The song however is so close yet so far from perfection, for while there are so many beautiful leads, there is unfortunately no proper guitar solo to complement the pain and sorrow that makes this song so sweet. I really do have to wonder why there isn’t a single song on the album that goes for extended guitar solos, I mean, the band’s guitarists are clearly capable of tasty and melodic guitar work – I would love to hear them shredding. I have to question why they chose to hold back.

To pick up the pace, ‘Mariner’s Compass’ possibly has the best intro on the whole album – a great acoustic melody followed up by a tremolo-picked verse. I can tell that there has been a lot of thought placed in this track as the slower played guitars actually match the blast beats well. A good turnaround is the guitar lead followed by traditional cleans and what seems to be hardcore backing vocals. This is another flawless track that would definitely be radio-worthy, and the band was very clever to put it close to the end of the album – too many albums lose connection with their listeners because the best songs are near the beginning, and as a consequence, feel repetitive near the end. It’s good to hear that there was thought put into the song order.

‘Atticus’ is the song that’s going to get crowds bouncing, for just a little bit. Half-way through though, I imagine they’ll be buying their drinks. You see, the vocals are good as always, and the track is instrumentally solid, but I don’t feel the song really goes anywhere or does anything exceptional when you compare it to the rest of the album. I’ve listened to this album ten times now and I think this is the one song I would skip, or at least not bother with after roughly a minute and fifty seconds, for the simple reason that it feels dull and longer than it really is. This song would perhaps be better used for listening at home; probably best they don’t play this song at concerts.

The final song on the album appropriately titled ‘Farewell’ has variations of particularly awesome segments, but also some dull ones. For instance, the transition from the clean strumming at the intro to the melancholy breakdowns is a stroke of genius – intros are clearly the band’s specialty. The tails in guitar riffs are easily one of the best on the whole album, but then… we reach the clean strumming interlude. I guess it’s common for metal albums to have talking samples in them, and that is the dull part of the song that doesn’t really help the track in any way, but we can forgive it for the fact that there is a build-up to a wonderful blast beat that rescues the song from being skipped. The important thing however is that when you finish listening to the album, you feel compelled to listen to it all over again.

Overall, this is a fine album, especially for listeners that have grown bored of some of the long-running melodic death metal acts. There are very few dull parts in certain songs, and if they hope to reach the same greatness as In Flames or Carcass once did, they will need to produce proper guitar solos, not just brief lead breaks. But other than that, a good 90% of the album is fresh and interesting – maybe even the best melodic death metal album of the year. I look forward to hearing many albums in the future years to come, be sure to also check out their previous work.

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