Calm like a bomb

Orlando metal act Khann boast brains and brawn


(Black Market Activities)
with No Qualms, Abuse
9 p.m. Monday, June 20
Will's Pub,

After dramatic lineup changes and emotional reckonings, Khann's long-awaited follow-up album to 2007's Tofutopia finally emerges to unveil a focused and evolved Khann. Erode is an explosion in scope and craft, light years more mature than their previous incarnation. This is a big boy's album.

The Orlando progressive metal outfit has never lacked force. But before now, their suffocating attack suffered from an unrelenting sameness distinguishable only to extreme-music scholars. It's the kind of crammed grind that simply recedes into white noise in the absence of counterpoint or relief. Now, their sound has a pronounced sense of journey and dimension. Instead of indiscriminately blowing their load like a busted pipe, Khann's newfound control conjures anticipation, depth and drama. These new alleys allow them to melodically (the gypsy-like solo of "Heroic Dosage") and technically venture out and expand the mind right before kicking it right back into the vortex (the mighty outro to "Appollo"). Here, more clarity and aim yields greater impact.

Khann still launches from hardcore and metal. But this time, their tendrils stretch out impressively to strike an interesting tension that transcends those straits. On one hand, there's enough stylistic enterprise in highlights like the mathematic aggression of "Implosion" and the emotional post-hardcore of "Heroic Dosage" to hang with the some of the brainiest rock bands out there. On the other, the definitive noise-rock inferno raging throughout assures that these guys aren't just gonna roll over and let their intellect compromise their sonic wattage. The album's best moments – the axe-grinding menace of "The Gate," the diabolic Southern riffage of "Destitution," the frenzied sickness of "Reflection" and the hairy slashing of "Downward" – attest to that.

Like a thinking man's bomb, Erode proves that Khann would rather roar than scream, push boundaries instead of just BPMs. And this bottling of that adventurism places them on a new stratum in the Southern vanguard of heavy music.

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