Klone- Meanwhile (Album Review)

Feb. 10, 2023


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Despite a lengthy discography and a twenty-four year career, French progressive rock/metal band Klone has been one of those artists that have often flown under the radar.  That’s started to change in recent years with the expansion of their melodic and lush soundscapes and signing to Kscope, who released 2019’s Le grand voyage.  That effort found the group utilizing a much softer and subdued palette compared to some of their prior releases that blurred the lines between progressive metal and rock.  It fit well with the rest of Kscope’s roster and offered plenty of engaging songs, though some longtime fans may have been wondering if Klone would ever recapture some of their genuinely heavy tonality and approach to songwriting from their earlier days.  This year’s Meanwhile may not be returning to the denser groove metal of their earliest releases, but it does bring a noticeable amount of heavier instrumentation and booming, high-energy moments alongside the mellower ones. 

“Within Reach” opens the album and gives listeners a good idea of the balancing act Klone is going for throughout Meanwhile.  This song starts off with somber, brooding melodies that have a darker tone to them alongside drumming that ebbs and flows like waves on a beach, but around the halfway point the distortion kicks in and the sound gets much heavier and has some real weight to it.  If you felt that Le grand voyage didn’t have quite enough of these weightier grooves and metal influences that albums like The Dreamer’s Hideaway or Here Comes the Sun had, I think you’ll be pleased at how often Klone hits big, booming moments on Meanwhile.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are songs like “Scarcity” that slow things down a bit more and explore lush, mellow textures that are more subdued in nature but have plenty to discover across repeat listens.  Meanwhile succeeds in its ability to provide huge hooks on many of its choruses and verses while having interesting nuances that don’t immediately jump out at you, which gives the material the same quality of many of the best progressive rock and metal albums.  Whether it’s the horns on “Blink of an Eye” and “Elusive”, the shimmering guitar leads on “The Unknown”, or the contrasts between somber melodies and crushing, almost doomy instrumentation on the appropriately named “Night and Day”, there’s a lot of substance to be found here.  Sometimes the group does seem like they’re stretching things out just a bit longer than they need to, as the title track in particular doesn’t quite justify its seven-minute run, but even with some slight bloat I’ve found myself drawn back to this album regularly. 

As Klone’s sound has shifted between progressive metal and rock over time, it’s been interesting to watch how vocalist Yann Ligner’s performance has also shifted to match the tone the rest of the band is going for.  Initially he still had a much rougher pitch that was sung but had a bit more of a metallic edge to it, but over time Ligner has pushed into cleaner territory.  It took some time but Le grand voyage and Meanwhile have had some of his best performances to date, as he is able to deliver soft, emotive singing during the verses and hit powerful choruses where his voice seems to soar into the clouds.  You do also get a few moments where the grittier vocals come back into play, adding some darker flourishes to the album.  Like the instrumental work, there are a lot of small details to discover over repeat listens, and this gives Meanwhile quite a bit of depth.

A few of the tracks feel a bit bloated, but there’s no denying that Klone’s latest album is another strong showing for this underrated band.  Meanwhile is a natural blend of the heavy, darker elements of the band’s earlier discography with the brighter, soft textures of Le grand voyage, and brings plenty of memorable hooks and interesting details to keep listeners returning for more.  With music of this quality, here’s hoping Klone’s notoriety continues to increase, and if this is your first taste you may want to dive back into their discography to see just how they’ve transformed over time.  Meanwhile is available from Kscope.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg