REVIEW: Khiral – Shards

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KHIRAL is a death/thrash influenced metal band from southern Finland, which was founded in 2008 and went through several line-up changes over the years. The current members are Joni Öhman on bass, vocalist Tuomo Vänskä, the guitarists Sami Lehtonen and (as recent addition) Tuomas Kulomaa, as well as Tom Aho on drums. While their debut “Chained” (2018) leaned into the dark hardcore-inspired rock direction, their second album, “Shards” (out on August 6th, 2021, via Puuma Records), evolved with more influences from thrash and death metal. The cover artwork already gives an impression of what KHIRAL wants to express thematically: they invite the listener to scratch on the surface of what we see as shiny reality and take a look behind the mirror, where we manage to find some cracks.

Sounds promising so far, but what about the music? The short intro opens with a distorted soundscape, leading to the first track, “Our Final Gate.” What we get here is a collection of groovy riffs and a clearly arranged rhythm section. The vocals alternate between spoken and roughly sung, sometimes growled. There’s a little interlude, reminiscent in style of MANTICORA, but most of the time the music is groovy and straightforward. The following “Painter of Fates” starts with the rhythm section and a cool bass line, then gets company from the guitars, picking up the same theme as well. It’s a story about humankind’s beliefs and that we can always influence our own destiny – but the coin has two sides, as the individual painting their own destiny of course also affects other people in doing so, directly or indirectly.

“Needle’s Eye” lifts up the tempo and is one of the highlights here, as it is again very groovy, even though some more pressure during the chorus would be welcome. “The Other Side” doesn’t bring very much new to the table; the same goes for “Misspelled Magic,” as it starts promising, but they both continue with the same formula, especially in the rhythm section. “Tiny People” is addressed to those who, by their actions, raise themselves above others. With “Nequit Machina,” they always lose me during the chorus – skip. However, with “The Hate Game,” they’re back on track and deliver a powerful finale.

With the topic being reflected in the cover artwork and the lyrics, the concept behind KHIRAL’s second album is consistent. What I liked most on “Shards” is the guitar work, as you can hear some great riffs and amazing solo parts. Even though I’m a huge fan of varied and mixed vocals normally, these here couldn’t fully convince me. The rhythms support the songs, but don’t come up with much variation, making the sound too repetitive at some points. The mixing and production are well-balanced and professional. Altogether, KHIRAL offer a solid groove metal album to their listener, and if you like your music straightforward, “Shards” could be the right one for you.

Written by Katha

Tracklist

  1. Intro: Shards
  2. Our Final Gate
  3. Painter of Fates
  4. Needle’s Eye
  5. The Other Side
  6. Misspelled Magic
  7. Tiny People
  8. Nequit Machina
  9. The Hate Game

Lineup

Tuomo Vänskä – vocals
Joni Öhman – bass
Sami Lehtonen – guitars
Tommi Kinnunen – guitars
Ville Velasco – drums

Label

Puuma Records

Links

Website

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Instagram