Khôra – Timaeus (Soulseller Records)
Review by Milos Sebalj
It’s been a while since I’ve come across such a crowded one-man band. Probably since Tobias Sammet started Avantasia. Khôra is not quite a single person effort, since Oleg, the founder, completed a line-up in the meantime. The reference to the above mentioned symphonic project comes from the immense list of guest musicians who helped “Timaeus” sound the way it does. Symphonic and progressive elements within the music of this German act might also serve as points of reference.
Hmm, I’m not sure if I should dub Khôra German, as Oleg comes from Ukraine and has already relocated from Germany to Ireland. Still, nevermind the nationality, let’s focus on music.
I’ve already mentioned symphonic and progressive motifs, but it is important to note that they are laid upon a foundation of melodic death and black metal. And that is not all. There are a whole lot of varieties on display here.
The record starts with something that sounds like it was spawned in the creative department of Dissection. Later on, it strives towards a later date Dimmu Borgir tendencies, eventually dissolving into a groovy memorial to nowadays Behemoth. „The Occultation of Time“ bears a heavy dose of doom metal inside and, as such, somewhat differs from the rest of the record. Certain burlesque infused melodies take on a quest for an even more modern version of black metal. Progressive instrumentations offer a fine variety for the more aggressive parts. These are usually infused within these moments so there are no sudden ’jumps’. Speaking of these prog tendencies, these mostly don’t come from the expected metal millieu, but rather from the legendary rock outfits who practiced such compositional acrobatics. Perhaps King Crimson should be taken as an example, but it is hard to be concrete in this case. Combined with the everpresent keyboards, and their neo classical approach, it all gives „Timaeus“ a theatrical touch, striving almost for a rock opera. And yes, there is a concept behind the album, spawned from the Plato’s work of the same name as the record. Another king comes to mind, especially when we are talking about vocal variations. You can easily guess which king I have in mind, when I mention metal operatics, and vocals. Of course, King Diamond, though only fragmentally, as the majority of voices present here do come from traditional screams and growls. Masterfull operation in the guitar department also, on occasion, bears the mark of Andy Larocque, particularly when Khôra descends into clearer heavy metal regions.
As a whole, the album is pretty homogenous, even if it comes from a vast array of influences. All the different fragments are neatly fitted together, so that „Timaeus“ keeps to its path. It is definitely not a clear path, but one ridden with a lot of debris, which Khôra skillfully uses to produce its art. However, when all is said and done, the album is easily forgettable. Somehow, Oleg and company, in their quest for musical diversity, ‘forgot’ to count in the factor of memorability. This way, all which is left is the atmospheric specter, but the music itself faces oblivion. If we count “Timaeus” a fresh, or even original musical outtake, there is no question that Khôra has enough creative ideas and a way to make them work as an entirety. On the other hand, what they certainly need is more ‘hooks’ to keep the listener focused to what comes out of the speakers.
Other than that, there are really no further complaints. This one goes out to those of open mind. Most often, they are already used to modern (extreme) metal tendencies. Try this. It might suit your taste.