Artist: Kin Beneath Chorus
Regardless of the band, these days you have to respect artists willing to shake things up and try something a little different. In 2017—where there is no shortage of artists making albums ranging from solid to stellar—there is a relative drought of bands that are open to ditching the old, tried and true dynamics and try something exciting and eye opening. When it comes to metalcore-infused melodic death metal act Kin Beneath Chorus, they certainly warrant a tip of the hat in that respect—as they blend a focus on atmospheric metal with punchy, pointed -core influence in a manner that certainly defies contemporary and mainstream “standards.”
Unfortunately, however, that’s where much of the Grecian outfit’s appeal ends. Where their 2017 full length release Invia is an inventive blending of styles laden with instrumental prowess, it also stands to be one of the most homogenous displays of heavy music this year has seen so far. Where Invia starts in a promising fashion, it quickly falls into a rut wherein just about every song sounds like it’s made up of parts and pieces from the tracks before it—to a point where if the listener even makes it to the closing song, “Farewell,” you can surely bet that they’ll be saying farewell to the entire album for the foreseeable future as well.
I want to preface this article with this: Invia isn’t necessarily a bad album. After all, Kin Beneath Chorus are certainly talented at their respective instruments—with the intense drumming serving as a constant focal point throughout the entire release. Where the band blunder and ultimately fail is their ability to write songs that sound and feel different. With “The March” and “Higher Than Man” capturing the listener’s interest—largely in thanks to percussionist Nash Makridis—the album quickly deteriorates into “heard it before” grooves and moments where the listener, while stifling a yawn, mumbles to themselves “yup, their drummer is still really good.” Guitarists Anestis Sydiropoulis and George Papas find themselves trapped similarly–with a strong couple opening tracks that only reveal that, as Invia drags on, they only have one or two tricks up their sleeves, and they aren’t different enough to keep a 40 minute album fresh. “Session XII” or “Those Days,” like any song on the band’s latest release, reveal this when heard in isolation from the remainder of the album. Immense drumming, ruthless and lacerating fretwork and moments of “pretty cool” atmosphere draw the listener in—but in the context of the entire release, sound utterly identical to the climaxes of songs both before and after them. Kin Beneath Chorus deserve another slight praise with the appearance of their bassist, Alex Psaras, towards the end of the album—desperately attempting to make his plunking, snappy bass heard against the band’s instrumental maelstrom, giving songs like “Atticus” or “Farewell” monikers like “the one with that bass groove,” or “the one where the album’s finally over.”
Kin Beneath Chorus’ instrumental monotony would likely be more forgivable if their vocal element either added any sense of variety to the album or was—well—better. Where Invia’s screamed and shouted vocal styles are solid and sturdy, the band’s cleanly sung sections range from sub-par to sheer cringe-inducing. With entire verses where it’s hard to tell if their vocalist even closes his mouth between words (let alone annunciates or makes marked effort to alter his pitch) and gritty mid-range yells that rarely deviate from a standard, samey bark, Kin Beneath Chorus’ vocal element is the component of the band’s sound most likely to drive listeners away indefinitely. Again, at first, it’s at least passable—as “The March” makes little use of strained singing and “Higher Than Man” is lucky enough to be both short and early on in the schema of the album. After that, things start to roll downhill at an accelerated rate, quickly following the band’s musical direction and wearing out the listener’s strained attention and well-tested patience.
Invia would be decent as an EP, and better with a more varied and punctual vocal element—so it’s hard to write Kin Beneath Chorus’ latest effort off as a total flop. However, the album’s creative direction—or lack there of—means that if the listener makes it through Invia once, that’s all the time they’re going to give it before invariably removing it from their library and memory to make room for something that leaves a lasting impression.
For Fans Of: In Hearts Wake, Bel’akor, Northlane
By: Connor Welsh