Now cruising through their sixth year of activity, the Italian-American quintet Klogr have spent the last several years building a solid foundation of support within the European alternative scene due their soundly established and approachable progressively laced alt-metal. Following a series of line-up changes in the past few years, it appears member dynamics solidified last year with their latest album Keystone being the result of the shifting personnel within the group.
From the initial get go, it quickly becomes apparent that the group don’t intend to shy away from their established and somewhat classically stereotypical alt metal sound and tone. Yet, whilst the group may have been known for incorporating elements of prog into their sound, Keystone see’s Klogr moving away from their progressive roots in favour for more conventional and archetypal alt-metal and heavy rock structures.
This becomes apparent in the album opener ‘Sleeping Through The Season’s' a track that focuses on simplistic chord progression and a conventional, albeit catchy chorus. The deep, percussive vocal talents of front man Gabriele Rustichelli only adds emphasis to this slight change in direction. Of course, whilst the vocals of Gabriele have always been delivered in a more percussive fashion, it seems to be a typical element of the more cliched alt metal, and ultimately results in sound reminiscent of acts such as Disturbed or Seether.
There are times when the group does venture into progressive territories within this release. Tracks such as ‘Prison Of Light’ and ‘Dark Tides’ see a focus on more ambient and expansive sounds and ‘Silent Witness’ presents sets of chord progression. It all adds an additional layer to the aforementioned alt-metal oriented sound within this record. It’s a welcoming sound that should excite entrenched fans and newer fans that may be drawn in by the more basic and conventional track structures on the record. This tracks also brightly showcase the lyrical concepts within this album; the general concept present being one that explores the notion of humanity causing widespread environmental destruction leading to our destruction.
Despite this, and unlike the stated tracks present, the vast majority of the record is stereotypical of classic genre conventions, tropes, and ultimately, musically un-challenging. The record primarily focuses on catchy hooks and choruses, slightly basic chord progression and clean guitar solos. Whilst this may sound like critique, the group wholesomely embrace it and revel in it. Yes, It’s archetypal of the genre, but the record is delivered in a fashion that’s welcoming and perfectly approachable to a massive audience, including casual listeners of alternative music.
Whilst some long time listeners may be disappointed with the lack of distinctive progression, there’s certainly a level of undisputed skill within this release. This becomes quickly apparent due to the strikingly crisp, balanced and clean production values present. Grammy award wining producer David Bottrill (Rush, Muse, Tool, just to name a few) has done a fantastic job on this album, lifting them a level above their peers within their respective scene.
With 12 tracks present and with a total running time clocking in at just over 50 minutes, Keystone certainly isn’t a brief and hastened listen. It’s a record that could have used some filtering due to the notable level of filler present, and overall, it does feel like the group have gone for a more ‘quantity over quality’ approach. Despite this, there’s some gems in this record that will appeal to the more experienced connoisseurs of the prog laced alt-metal genre, with the overall record still being engaging enough to more casual punters wanting a familiar but leisurely stroll through unambiguous and straightforward pastures.