Katharos XIII - Palindrome review


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Band: Katharos XIII
Album: Palindrome
Release date: October 2019

01. Vidma
02. To A Secret Voyage
03. Caloian Voices
04. No Sun Swims Thundered
05. Xavernah Glory

Palindrome is the type of music that would be played in the jazz lounges of the Underworld.

The third record by Romanians Katharos XIII contains smooth saxophone, husky female vocals and gentle jazzy/swing drum rhythms; however, it also features menacing dark ambient stretches, shrieking harsh vocals and heavy distorted guitars. This fusion of smooth jazz, dark ambient and metal is laid out in the first song of the album, "Vidma", and Katharos XIII commit to this approach throughout Palindrome, which blends relatively seamlessly together into a cohesive 60-minute whole.

The songs vary to some degree in how they implement the various sonic approaches; "To A Secret Voyage", for example, starts off quiet and ambient, gradually introducing jazzier aspects until it reaches the halfway mark, at which point it transitions to heavier chugging and harsher vocals. A song such as this, which slowly traverses the different styles employed by Katharos XIII, acts as a good demonstration of where the group's strengths lie. The initial ambient opening is well-paced, and the combination of jazzy drumming, smooth vocals and melancholy atmosphere is impressively fused together.

In contrast to the complex, subtly sinister vibe conjured during the other segments of this song, the all-out metal sections feel somewhat crude and one-dimensional in comparison, with one-note chugging dominating the two heavy parts of "To A Secret Voyage". Although including elements of metal into their approach does offer the band more directions in which to take the songs on Palindrome, Katharos XIII may need to work on how to more effectively implement them in order to better complement their other musical components. They work better in some songs than others; "Caloian Voices" is so impeccably structured in its patient development of its eerie, menacing dark jazz atmosphere that it demands a satisfactory, cathartic climax, and when it eventually brings the distortion and harsh vocals after 10 minutes of build-up, it restrains itself somewhat in order to remain sufficiently dynamic such that it matches the expansive nature of what came before.

I feel like this is the conundrum at the centre of Palindrome. The progression of the songs leads listeners to anticipate explosions of sound at the climaxes of the songs; however, the heavier the metal sections get, the more the enchanting atmosphere that makes the album so enticing is diminished. It will be intriguing to see how Katharos XIII develop this particular element of their sound on any future records, as it feels like the missing piece of the jigsaw. Aside from the slightly more abstract closing track "Xavernah Glory", Palindrome indicates that the group are already highly proficient at writing and playing their particular brand of dark atmospheric jazz. Addressing what feels like the clear weak point of the album, whether by delivering more convincing heavy moments or by scaling back the intensity of the metal parts in the manner that they are on tracks such as "Caloian Voices", could push their next effort to even greater heights than the already impressive Palindrome.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Written on 15.12.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 73 users
16.12.2019 - 09:57
Do geese see God?
16.12.2019 - 10:00
Crazy how different this is from their other two albums. In a league of its own.
Sometimes you need a little wishful thinking just to keep on living.
16.12.2019 - 10:53
Old Nick
That opening line

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