Khmer bring you the following blackened noises from Spain. Released on August 11 by a coalition of labels from around the world. Larga Sombra is the band’s first full length album after putting out a demo, EP, and a couple of splits since forming in 2012. I looked into the name Khmer and it turned into a 2 hour history lesson of Cambodia, Indian Kings, the Naga people, dream arrows, dowry by ocean drinking, and a mid 16th century war with Spain. In the end I have no idea if or which of the many rabbit holes I went down is the reason for the name. So file Khmer under “dudes I’d like to annoy with questions over beers.” Apart from the name, there is actually a lot to dig into about the Spaniards. Larga Sombra translates to “Long Shadow,” and the album’s artwork is a stellar representation of the ideas within. It fits so well into lyrical themes of the music it’s almost as if the man writing the lyrics did the artwork. Well…he did, and that’s why it’s so solid. Also, not all bands are fortunate enough to have an engineer with a studio in the band, but with guitarist Iván Ferro at the helm, Khmer have a leg up on everyone else. When you are trying to blend so many extreme styles, having a dude in the band who knows exactly what the endgame is has to be priceless.
Before we get too far into the themes and overall sound of the album, I want to point out one more aspect of this album that screams “these dudes give a fuck.” The lyrics are entirely in Spanish but they took the time to have each song translated to not only English but Japanese as well. It reads like a true translation of ideas not just a word for word high school Spanish teacher translation. The latter often leads to missing out on subtle ideas. I can’t speak for the Japanese translation, but from what I can gather it is also done in a way that reads as Japanese poetry. And I know you tvre folks out there are ready to burn a church because they dare even have the lyrics printed out. Well, when you believe you have something actually worth sharing with the world it makes sense to write it down!
Loneliness and the “self” are the standout ideas put forth. There are points of social commentary, reactions to the current state of the world and a general recoil from modern culture. Self awareness not only involves being mindful of our own actions but how those actions impact what or who is around us. Throughout the album many questions come up in the lyrics, question one’s own decisions and the decisions we may face in the future. For those of you who enjoy digging deep into an album’s lyrical themes, you are in for a treat.
This album is dark and heavy in many ways. With a list of musical influences too many to mention, it’s clear this is not a cvlt or predictable venture. The vocal fit right in with the coldest and most phlegm filled you will find anywhere. Huge crust inspired grooves fooling around with panicked tremolos, and catchy hardcore riffs. The drums really are the focal point instrumentally. The blast beats drive the music forward and the cymbals chime right through the noise but really it’s the punk rock d-beats that set Larga Sombra apart from others. There is also some clever use of the audio channels, often times feeling like a dirty sound in one ear and clean in the other. Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy when a band has a little bit of fun with the listening experience. At only 25 minutes, Larga Sombra gets in and gets out quickly but is still very memorable. The short songs move along smoothly and never get boring.
“A este Lado De La Luna” (“On This Side of the Moon”) is the most diverse song on Larga Sombra. It’s starts out with depressively distorted guitars, some shimmering cymbals, and abstract feeling drumming creating an oppressive droning atmosphere. Just over half way through the song the haze of distortion fades away for a brief moment feeling very much like the end of the song, but it leads into a melodic guitar riff and very groovy bass line. It’s a cool trick in the middle of an album that leads us into the second half.
“Soledad” (Loneliness) fucking rips! No other way to put it. From the first note drum head strike it races ahead with a force that would make quarks and gluons jealous. This song is hard not to bop along to. The d-beats fit so well in between melodic riffing is make you wanna dust off your hardcore dancing shoes. Next time you need to get yourself fired up throw on “Soledad,” you’ll thank me.
There is a lot to take away from Larga Sombra musically, intellectually and emotionally. The commonly used “I don’t care what people think,” “That’s not my problem” and the various forms of NFG (No Fucks Given) are used by people who think they are being cool or independent. But in reality those idea are just insecure bullshit. People who are afraid of a bit of criticism, afraid of failure, or afraid to grow as a human use these as a crutch for not trying or just being a twat to others. It’s important to not let others derail your train but avoid pretending like you’re the only train on the tracks. Take pride in what you do, show emotion, express yourself, share your passions and don’t be casual.
Pick up a copy of Larga Sombra on all the major formats from Khmer’s Bandcamp or one of the many labels that worked together to get this out.