Meanwhile is the latest creation by the French alt-metal/art-rock collective Klone, it’s released on Kscope on 10th February 2023. Emotive and conceptual, Klone have once again broken new sonic ground and built further on their signature expansive sound.
Since 2019’s opus Le Grand Voyage, French art-rockers Klone have risen to new heights across the globe, touring alongside the likes of Leprous and Pain of Salvation, and blowing away festival crowds at Hellfest, Motocultor, Prog Power USA, Midsummer Prog, and Cruise to the Edge. Back with new album Meanwhile, the band return with sprawling textures, huge guitars and beautiful melodies to satisfy progressive metal fans and rock listeners alike.
Recorded in February 2022 with producer Chris Edrich (TesseracT, Leprous, The Ocean Collective), Meanwhile bears all the hallmarks of that illustrious genius and chronicles the best and worst aspects of humanity, as observed by this canny crew. Vocalist Yann Ligner’s high-concept and often meta lyrics paint a picture of events taking place at the same time but in different places, while he muses about choices that are made against our will that can change the course of our common history – resulting in some poignant reflections about today’s world.
First single, Within Reach, showcases Klone’s signature blend of beautiful soundscapes, monstrous riffs and off-kilter time signatures, blended with relatable lyrics. According to the band, the song is about those missed opportunities, those moments that elude us, close to the tipping point and so often within reach. The song makes a good introduction to the album, setting the tone with a powerful and direct opening. The sound-mix is sharp and crisp and the “wide-screen” feel to the production enhances a composition full of relief and straight to the point. Both heavy and refined, Within Reach condenses the ingredients that go to the make-up of this new album.
Next up is Blink of an Eye, which follows a slower, powerful, almost fuzzed arrangement, accompanied by some absolutely demented saxophone! The chord progressions, bubbling bass, punchy yet sparse percussion and Yann’s smoothly controlled vocals all combine to paint an almost Katatonia-like picture of regret….a haunting earworm of a track.
Bystander follows, described as an introspection on our relationship with death and mourning, and its acceptance. A kind of parenthesis on our passage in this life. It’s a dreamlike and immersive soundscape, with heady melodies and heightened emotion, this time making me think of Dawnwalker given the subtle blend of harmonic sensitivity and powerful intensity. I’m thoroughly enjoying being immersed in this combination of great songs and cinematic arrangements / production!
Scarcity continues in a similarly haunting, melodic, echoing mix, and again Elusive uses this intriguing mix of hollow, almost metallic guitar notes, submerged in a wash of melodic chords and sumptuous drumming.
Apnea is different, it starts off more slowly, a sparser finger-picking guitar sound, softer chords and a gently looping bassline that I love…the strength of this track is that it breaks the mould slightly, my only reservation about the album as a whole at this point being to wonder whether it might all get a bit samey. But Apnea reassures me, it’s clever stuff.
Yann’s singing is undoubtedly kept “restrained” within a narrow range – I use this phrase consciously, he’s not “limited”, it’s more a case of working within certain sound parameters as often seems to be the case in alt-rock, post-rock bands at the moment? I could name lots – and lots! – of well-known bands doing the same, and it can get to the point where, for me, listening to a full album in one take becomes hard work. There’s a hint of that here, which is to take nothing away from Yann’s strong vocals!
Night and Day proves me wrong, despite the “familiar vocal band” – the arrangement is another sparse, “less is more” approach that absolutely works and paints an intriguing soundscape. Disobedience adopts a more full-on rocky approach, setting us up nicely for the album’s title track… Meanwhile has a feel of “epic-ness” (sorry, my laziness!) about it, at just under seven minutes it’s the album’s longest track and, like the opener, serves as a perfect microcosm for the album as a whole. Poignant vocals, some absolutely monstrous guitar work, interspersed with haunting, tinkling piano – and the clangers?!! – but it works wonderfully, creating a pause for breath, a taking stock of emotion before The Big Riff kicks in…I love the John Bonham-like simplicity and power of the drumming, the incessant bassline, and the guitars just swirl and wind around and around you – totally captivating, even another touch of “Madman on the Sax”! A hugely powerful track, my favourite on what is a really strong album.
The striking artwork for Meanwhile was created by Umut Recber, who experimented with photo manipulation techniques to create a striking image of stormy skies which perfectly represents the music within.
Meanwhile will be released on February 10th 2023 on CD / LP / limited edition silver coloured vinyl LP / limited edition clear vinyl LP / digitally and is available to pre-order HERE (https://Klone.lnk.to/Meanwhile)
Klone have confirmed they will be supporting the release of Meanwhile with live shows, beginning in their native France, but more dates will be announced soon.
Photo Credit: Leo Margarit