[Self Released, 2019]
Intro: Thomas Sarakintsis
Translation: Vangelis Christodoulou
Quite many bands around the globe prove to be shooting stars in the age of information overload. We assume that Khadavra’s case, who hail from Gothenburg in Sweden, will not have the same fate. A True Image of the Infinite Mind, their 2014 debut album, went probably unnoticed if not for a bunch of enthusiasts from the deeper underground, who might as well have become aware of it untimely. That album definitely had its moments, but the result was deemed uneven. Five years afterwards, the Swedes with the somewhat unexceptional name are back with Hypnagogia.
It is not rare that the album art will portray the album’s contents to the point and that’s what ensues hereto. The logo, the coloring, as well as the rails that make one wonder whether they will lead to exiting the matrix or depict an introspect towards the “basement” of the unconscious mind – fall in line with the band’s aesthetic stature. That an artist is competent in instilling a connection between the music and the related image, is a positive first sign.
The band can be described as the ambient version of a psychedelic prog / post-rock act combined with a few metal bits that fuse the old with the new. Concerning their influences, it doesn’t look as if they revolve around a specific axis of reference, although they plead allegiance to the Floyd spirit, molding it with doses by Opeth, Tool, obvious post-rock tendencies, Scandinavian and Swedish prog. And that’s how it more or less is.
Ethereal-clad songs that are pleasingly transcendent, prog-aligned and wrapped in a psychedelic cloak. The band has adopted an astral / psychedelic aesthetic as if inducted by some alien sect on distant planets. That’s the vibe emanating through the tracks, starting with the prelude Horisontens Himlavalv and the very good Down the Rabbithole (nice title!) following next, with one of the songs being graced by vocals. It’s worthy of mention that three out of four members share vocal duties and while sweet-voiced singing is not abundant, the band’s chants and mystical proses fit in. Lyricism, post-rock and psychedelia alternate harmoniously on Dissolve, while on Mordängel, the tone is set by the french horn which passes on the torch to the mellotron and the bass, all foreshadowing the guitar solo that will leave its mark on the composition. Tryptophan is the next track featuring vocals, and it constitutes a notable moment that does not deviate from the album’s character.
Special allusion has to be made about Kollektiv. Time stops here and the listen summarizes all that’s Khadavra’s essence: it’s a 28-minute-long lyrical / cosmic hymn attempting to take the audience through astral highways that have not yet been made known. A masterpiece that is categorically efficient in alluring and reinvigorating the human spirit. The band should capitalize on and set this as the leading light for its journey henceforward.
Compared to their debut, Khadavra showcase here the remarkable tenacity and dedication to create something distinct. This is accomplished both along the fewer songs as well the instrumental tracks. Besides the evident quality of the compositions, the band succeeds in sounding as a collective entity focusing in creating music as a whole and not as an expansion of each member’s skillset. It is a particularly interesting musical statement that, after it has been absorbed, leaves its listener with the taste of something honest, while being fresh – an element often missing in the underground. This is a group worthwhile of attention and I look forward to commensurable – if not enhanced – continuation.
7.5 / 10
The Swedes Khadavra balance between progressive rock and psych, reminding a rather less folky version of Agusa. While still faithful to their 70s influences, they introduce some more “modern” song development methods on their sophomore Hypnagogia (check, for instance, the notable Dissolve). It is nevertheless on Mordängel that they do an excellent job, which is a composition that – besides the expected complexity – features uncharacteristic arrangements and, more importantly, a lurking dark atmosphere that’s constructed feverishly by alternating psychedelic layers provided by the keyboards and drums. On the contrary, on the closing and almost-half-hour-long Kollektiv, the group does not succeed in overcoming the obstacles of the long duration. A fairly weak composition that leaves a bittersweet aftertaste to an interesting album.
6 / 10