Klone – Meanwhile

I saw Klone last year on their tour with Pain of Salvation, and it surely was the best show I saw in 2022.  I think I had underestimated this band, as they have a strong stage presence and seem like a class act completely.  I was therefore excited to hear their new album, Meanwhile, which is releasing February 10th through Kscope.  I think this band is on the rise, and this album will help.

Klone hail from France.  They’ve actually been around quite a long time, since at least 1999 with an earlier incarnation that began in 1995.  So, honestly, they are older than most modern progressive bands.  It’s about time they get some recognition.  The current lineup includes Yann Ligner on vocals, Guillaume Bernard and Aldrick Guadagnino on guitars, Morgan Berthet on drums, and Enzo Alfano on bass.

Klone’s music has evolved over the years.  They were once a heavier sort of band, like Gojira, and you’ll still hear that tone in their music.  Over the years, and especially with their last album, Le Grand Voyage, they chose to chill out a little, and so the music was more atmospheric and floating.  With Meanwhile, however, the band has found a beautiful balance between those sounds, giving us an album with plenty of raw riff power, and also plenty of ambience, melody, and dreaminess.  That was my first reaction to the album: it is balanced perfectly.

I’ll admit that Klone’s signature contrast between gritty vocals and melodious guitar work can make many of their songs sound very similar.  I think the band knows this, and Meanwhile attempts to inject their sound with something more.  On several tracks, you’ll hear various woodwinds, which ones I’m not knowledgeable enough to say with full certainty, and the promo doesn’t mention them at all.  It does sound like an alto sax and maybe a clarinet to me; regardless, they are effective in their dirty jazz tone that adds not only emotion and quirk, but also folk and blues tones.

What this means is that, while this album revels in the almighty riff, heavier than we’ve heard from them in a while, it also means that there is space to think.  There are what sound like improvisations and funky, twisting eccentricities that give some of the songs a distinct flavor.  However, some songs don’t require that, and some of them really bring the metallic heat.

Like a few other albums this year, I’m going to say that the second half of Meanwhile is the better half.  In the first half, we get the two singles, “Within Reach” and “Bystander”, both great tunes.  The former is pretty heavy and feels like a statement to those who complained about their softer previous release.  “Bystander” has more of a balance between their heavy and soft sides, and I think it is a good choice for a single.  On the first half, also, songs like “Blink of an Eye” and “Elusive” bring quirky woodwind action that really sounds fantastic.  In fact, I think “Elusive” is one of the best songs on the album with its extended, atmospheric wall of contrasts and heaviness.

The second half just doesn’t miss, though.  “Apnea”, the third single, moves between sharp edges and smooth melodies.  I’ve noticed, though, that the band has released three of the more straightforward tunes as the singles, omitting some of the funkier stuff.  Continuing on, “The Unknown” arrives, and it is terrific; its first few minutes are pretty rhythmic and maybe even ordinary, but the last half is a razor-edged beast that absolutely rocks.  “Night and Day” and “Disobedience” are both strong tracks with lots of towering guitar work and great choruses.  They have a kinetic feeling to them, like we are rushing towards the ending.

The title track is probably my favorite song overall, though.  It has a nice, musing atmosphere, but slowly moves into a hulking, heavy display of power and rhythm.  I like the crazy alto sax ruminations near the end, and the whole thing just ends up feeling beautifully chaotic, and yet deeply controlled, too.  It’s a phenomenal closer.

Klone has so much to offer, and I hope more listeners jump on board.  This album is heavy and satisfying, but also subtle and eccentric in its own way.  I will say that it takes a few listens to absorb everything, though I fell in love with the guitars and bass work immediately.  Meanwhile is exactly the album that Klone needed to release right now.


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