Review by Neil St.Laurent
CD Provided by Kohllapse
This is a recording definitely worthy of a track by track look.
Path - This starts the album off with an acoustic guitar flare accompanied by a clean electric guitar (best as I can figure). With a low hum in the backgound a synth completes the dark, somewhat ambient sound.
Tell Me Your Fears - This continues the dark nature of the album with a very simple rhythm section; a single chord that is drawn out for a while, quite before it fades away. As a foreground to this comes the clean guitar again. This is often interrupted with a faster rhythm section that loses the clean lead, and in it's place has a distorted guitar sound, slow of course. Also included is the break from the darkness into a more atmospheric chunk created by a simple guitar melody. The keyboards and bass fill out the mood creating nature of the track. The vocals are a death growling style, with some emphasis placed on harmony (yes, the same thing that many doomdeath vocalists go for). There is also some plain talking on the song, and a soft echoing style of speech as well. With exception to the mid ranged clean singing nearing the end of the song, the vocals are mixed somewhat lower than they should and are often masked by the music. In addition, this song interrupts itself near the end with a folk sounding guitar segment, supported minimally by a bass and some drums.
Never - Kohllapse likes the sound of the guitar notes dying out, this time being sustained by a synth note however. This does repeat itself a little too much at the beginning of the song. Asserting that they aren't a metal band this song is really only classifyable as dark, as much of their work is. The drums are intermitent, along with the bass. Only the simple single note guitar melody and the synth maintain a presence. The vocals here, possibly more appropriately mixed at a lower volume, are a soft whispering, yet deep, voice. Towards the end of this song the distorted riffing comes back, along with a more singing style of vocal, serving to add a bit of intensity to the song where otherwise there would be none.
Towards - This is just a slow speed guitar solo that serves as an atmospheric break from the other music, but you may never tell since if you just play the whole album you'll just think it's part of another song.
Take Me Away - With their normal atmospheric fare they add a bit of sound effects here, possibly a light rain storm; a varying pattern of wind. Increasing the intensity level a bit they bump up the heaviness at times, and blend in a more metal style to the guitar. Still accompanied by a simple drum beat, they manage to find a place to introduce a more complex bass track.
My Child - More of the same style, "My Child" continues with the clean / acoustic guitar and the atmospheric backing of the synth and bass, often absent of any drumming. This song appears to be apart the lyrics more than the music. Such a shame since as I mentioned before it's often difficult to hear the vocals, they sound weak at times and too silent to be made out through the music. I can't quite figure out what the lyrics are about, somewhat of a religious overtone as the others tend to have. At least they aren't cheesy, nor are they boring or plain.
An End To Pain - An insane change for Kohllapse, "An End To Pain" is a modern black metal assault. Fast drumming, picked up guitar riffing, and a stronger bass. All accompanied by a non-annoying black shrieking, unintelligable, yet quite fitting and enjoyable. The finishing line combines in a death growl, that unless you listen carefully will be missed.
Self Infliction - Going a little further to that unknown, almost taboo realm, the background of this song is ambient (in the style of ambient techno if you will). It starts out soft and subtle, then with an increase in heaviness the mood is elevated to a grandious temple style backing (that's the only way I know how to describe the sound).
Serenity - Closing out the album is a simply atmospheric track. The transitions are enough, and quick enough, to prevent it from just being an ambient track.
I had no idea what to expect when I put Kohllapse into the CD player for the first time. The music that my speakers gave rise to was simply amazing. Kohllapse is an amazing band that blends the qualities of doom, gothic, and a bit of death, and for a single song goes all out with the black metal. Short of the mixing of the vocals, this is an excellent album that easily rivals any label release.
You mention that your "vision" was paved out when all the local venues in your local area (Canberra) closed. What was the vision that Kohllapse was formed on?
Well Matt and myself (Ro) have played around the local scene for a couple of years now and the state of live music in our area now, which is pathetic, doesn't allow us much room to move as a live band. That is why when Kohllapse was formed we decided that live performance was not a priority as there was little to be gained. Kohllapse was formed to firstly put out some sort of recording and secondly to try and break the international scene. Without label backing or any likelihood of touring we figured that a live set was not so much an issue however it is something we are beginning to work on now that the CD is out and >promotion/sales are now underway.
What positive effects did the lack of venues have?
The main positive is that it has forced us to look for other means of sharing our music, that has meant a recording and has in a way made us look at a much bigger picture.
What negative effects did the lack of venues have?
It has stopped us from forming a strong local base of support for the band which is important for testing the water with any new ideas that you may have. It's also fun playing with other bands, going stupid on stage and meeting cool people, that's something I miss. AS well it's not the most encouraging thing in the world when the local metallers say, "Kohllapse? never heard of 'em."
Have you had the chance to do any live shows? If so, what was the response like?
We haven't played live yet cause we're still sequencing extra keyboard bits and making changes to some of our songs. Probably early April, we're getting together with some other bands in the same sitch and trying to get something going.
You mention you want to experiment with a different style of live show. Can you ellaborate on exactly what that means?
I don't want to give too much away, but occasionally you might see a play or drama which is really dark and has heaps of atmosphere about it. I figure to get full emotional value out of your songs live it could be really powerful to introduce characters, a storyline, scenery etc to make it a more dramatic show. We hope we can pull something off like this in the next couple of years. Queensryche sort of did it with Mindcrime Live.
Where does the band's inspiration come from?
It's hard to say really. I just hear music that I think we could expand upon all the time. I pick the most inspirational ideas from some of the stupidest music. You'll just hear something in a different light to that which it was portrayed and apply it to your own stuff. My fave bands like Queensryche, God Machine, Atomic Opera, Circle of Dust off inspiration not just musically but also in their professionalism and attitude.
The music is very diverse on the album, what, if any, unity does it all have?
Well the theme of the album is very much a first person view point. People aren't always depressed or tormented (I hope) so we didn't just want to harp on those emotions but also those of peace, hope freedom, and how they tie in with sadness, agony, confusion. At first many people find that our music is a bit schizophrenic compared to other music in the same genre, after a few listens I think people will find the alvum is more unified than most. We just didn't want to be boring and repetitive. I hope the diversity makes the album more interesting and less predicable. Noone seems to think we've gone too far.
Does the dark and frightening mood of all the songs, and lyrics, come from experience in your lives?
I guess it does, I am not a dark person now but used to be a bit, till I realised that looking like death and being all dark and tough doesn't get you that far in the real world. the music goes through stages from confusion and darkness and ends up in peace, that part does reflect myself, however most of the songs started with just a simple situation or emotional state and I just took them a lot further to make them more interesting and add some punch.
What type of fanbase are you going for with the music?
Not sure really. I hope that people who get into us are open minded to our ideas musically and lyrically. I'm really appreciative of any support we gain from anyone, I'm not fussed who listens to our music. The more non-metallers that hear us the better, obviously we seek to gain as much support from within the genre as we can. Rest assured our music is not going to whimp out, in fact the stuff I'm working on now is pretty full-on.
I noticed in particular that the vocal mixing seemed to have some production flaws in it. What other problems did you have with the recording?
Drums and vocals, it was a bit of a nightmare doing that, mainly because of total lack of experience, and top recording equipment. I didn't want the vocals to overtake the sound so in trying to be subtle we slightly lost a bit of the effect when levels changed. There were lots of little problems but no disasters. I could get really picky about the production but what's the point, it's out now, I'm happy with the music. We may re-record some of the songs live and stick it on the end of our next album, this time we'll get it sounding ballistic.
When can we expect another recording from you?
Mid 98. We never intended this album to get big, it's mainly for promotion and to raise some funds for the next CD. The next one is going to be massive, no production probs (haha). We are also looking for labels seeing as we are unsigned, and depending on that the timing of another CD sould change.
How can one get a copy of your debut CD?
Send Australian $18.00 plus $3.50 postage to:
PO Box 3801
WESTON ACT 2611
Thanks very much for your support,