AUDIO REVIEW: Descent Into Human Weakness, by Kalah

With my thanks to the band for providing a review copy

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • The full-length debut album
  • 12 tracks
  • Synth Metal
  • Releases on 19/08/2022

Prior to this release, Kalah have offered listeners two EPs of four tracks apiece. Titled Descent and Human, they offered a sampling of this band’s eclectic output. The third part of this operatic trilogy, Weakness, is just as hard to pin down. But when you take a step back and look at the whole, Descent Into Human Weakness is one of the most promising debut metal albums of recent years.

The greatest strength is the sheer diversity in the twelve songs. I’ve talked about the Dune-influenced ‘Titans of Dune’ before – and yes, it did become the soundtrack to my 2021 readthrough of the series. The song is among the more sombre offerings, but there is a sense of tragedy hanging over many of the songs. ‘Forget humanity/We’re a cold piece of stone’ laments ‘Pit of Violence (P.o.V)’ in the second act, while ‘Crows Calling at Night’ features the rather bleak refrain of ‘Stay with me my son/Bury me in snow.’ The subject matter is dark, but the tunes themselves cross from laments to anthems to calls for action as the album progresses.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a depressing album. While it’s lyrically rather bleak, the music itself is infectiously upbeat. ‘Side Effects’ features a beat that could be from an early 2000s videogame, and that will be looping in my head for a long whiole yet. The drumming is just the sort to headbang along to, while the guitar riffs, so overused in metal genres, are spread across the work to maximise impact. As well as knowing when to break out the thrashing, Kalah also know when to let the silence fall, and when to let the vocals do the heavy lifting. On that note, and without meaning to render the unfamiliar exotic, I find there is something special in having singers with accents other than British or American. Think of the way Attila Dorn belts out every letter in the word Iron for Powerwolf, and I hope you’ll understand what I mean. Musicians from countries where English is not necessarily as common as it is in the UK have a way of approaching English lyrics that just hits differently. For Kalah, it’s the slight twisting of words that lead singer Claudia Gigante’s voice naturally lends itself to. It’s coming at lyrics from an angle I don’t hear very often, and it’s wonderful.

Descent Into Human Weakness is a rare thing. It’s a metal album you can dance to. Its tracks are the sort that would blast over the speakers at a Sci-Fi convention. Balancing dark lyrics and light music, it stands as a mission statement for a band on the rise. It’s something a little bit different, which is never a bad thing in a crowded scene. If I had my way, this would only be the first album of many. I hope other metalheads agree.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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