On paper, Khroma might not sound that awe-inspring as they route heavier grooves through industrial and electronic synapses, dedicating most of their time to the pummeling mid-paced groove rather than any sort of delicate melodies or touchy feelings. Sure, ‘this’ has been done before. Hell, probably multiple times at varying degrees of success. And at this point, taking cues to song structures from various electronic genres (the various *step-based subgenres) isn’t that new of a thing in 2014. But don’t let that work against what’s being showcased on Khroma’s debut full-length Collapse.

What this Finnish outfit has done is make it all come together in a more than balanced manner. The different layers seem to drive the agenda forward rather than just have all the bits and pieces around ‘just because’. There’s a purpose, a plan on display here and it’s being executed methodically with an extreme prejudice.

Collapse puts the listener through a 35-minute meat grinder workout that’s not only consuming, but also indoctrinating. At first, Collapse simply appears to be more of a surgical shot of adrenaline that you empty into your system in one go. There’s little deviation as the guitars beetle onward with precision and weight, while the electronics weave patterns in the background despite occasionally bleeding into the forefront and taking the lead. And in that sonic violence, behind the distorted wall of guitar, electronics, low bass and Neurosis-esque rasping, lies the only downside — it’s constant and absolute. Some might hope for more variation and dynamics; more highs, lows and more contrast.

But once the material assumes total control of your senses, all the little details make it clear that this mechanical beast appears carefully planned out and the slight tonal changes become more evident. The nuances start to shine and despite the attention to detail and perfection, Collapse refuses to sound synthetic or lifeless. For example, at times “A Vessel to Steer” and “Cypher” sound almost death-doomish in their core, as if Daylight Dies had been assimilated into the mix. Then there’s the last last track, “The Martyr Acts”, that brings into play trip-hoppy (and quite teasing) female vocals that close Collapse with a hint of humanity and a glimmer of hope — if not of salvation.

I first saw the band play live at last year’s Tuska Festival in Helsinki, where the group pretty much overpowered and shadowed most of the other acts with the dehumanizing, audiovisual sensory overload. It’s now finally nice to have a part of that in a portable format, even if Collapse doesn’t quite yet see Khroma reach its full, projected potential. However, the upside is immense as Collapse simply refuses not to take part in the race to be one of 2014’s better albums.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
April 2nd, 2014


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