Hombre De Piedra – DD Release November 30, 2016
Well well well….it seems that Kayros have been around and flying under my radar for quite some time, as they formed ten years ago and have quite a few albums already under their belt. This is the first that I’ve heard of this Chilean four piece, and I have to say that I’m quite pleasantly surprised. All the elements of their complex sound are familiar, yet they combine them in unique and creative ways. There’s also a lot of slightly bizarre and off-kilter melodic choices in their riffs and chords with lend the songs a certain freshness as well. That’s good when you’re talking about “stoner rock”, which can often be extremely derivative and uninspired. The heavy Kyuss influence is pretty obligatory in when you’re working in this genre, though few bands fuse the classic desert rock sounds so seamlessly with the gonzo keyboards of space rock.
First off, this is one helluva headphone album – there’s just so much going on in the stereo field, especially with the keyboards. They’re not super present on every song, though when they stand out, they really steal the show. The vocals of Jose Ignacio Mora are in that eerie Ozzy vein, high pitched and with tons of echo. Mora doubles up with Sebastian Lara (who is also apparently responsible for the stellar keyboard work….) on the guitar duties, and together they create a down-tuned and totally blown out sound. The bass of Pancho Pavez seems a little low in the mix to me, though he seems to roughly follow the guitars when I can hear the bass lines. Leo Mantis handles drum duties, and his tom heavy beats have a sweet interplay between busier parts and more straightforward drum work. All and all, Kayros seems rock solid and well developed, though I’ll say straight away that I find the production and mix to be a little odd. There’s not a lot of low end, it’s tough to hear the bass and the kick drum, and the keyboards are always way, way on the top of the mix when they’re doing their thing. Granted, I like the keyboards, so I’m willing to concede the last bit, though the thin low end is a bit of a detraction for sure.
Song wise, I’ll start off by saying that all the lyrics are in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m not sure what they’re singing about, though that’s not really a problem for me since the vocals are so atmospheric anyways. They just seem like another instrument adding a vital ingredient to an already rich the sonic soup. Over the course of eight songs, Kayros show their proficiency and deftness for the various elements that make for classic stoner songs: there’s the obligatory downtuned desert rock riffing, exotic hallucinatory melodies, harmonized guitars straight out of the first Truckfighters album, and of course the pulsing keyboards that would make Hawkwind proud to share the stage. Opening track “Hombre Piedra” is the standout for me, an eight plus minute odyssey through time and space. It starts off with some clean, sparkling guitar chords and bizarre bursts of synth, then one guitar drops a trance inducing riff. From there the song builds off some super cool modal melodies until both guitars groove on the riff and the vocals come in. Around the five-minute mark, they break down the song with some natural harmonics right out of the Soundgarden playbook. I love guitar harmonics. After that, there’s a full throttle, far out keyboard solo. Nasty!
“Crisis RH2” is a short and straightforward track that starts strong with the double axe attack riding a low-down riff for all its worth, and the vocals kick in soon afterwards. The keyboards are used sparingly on this track; there’s a cool phase shifted noise that really effectively accents the chorus, though I honestly can’t tell if it’s a keyboard or heavily effected guitar. “Gaza” starts off with one of those aforementioned quirky melodic ideas, like something Queens Of The Stone Age would utilize, though Kayros play it much more trippy. Eventually the intro evolves into a slower, more simplistic riff, like a Neanderthal driving a dump truck. The keyboards kick in on top, followed by the vocals. The chorus adds a bit more melody to the main riff, there’s some more cool guitar and keyboard solos, then the song ends in a slow, primal riff and fading feedback.
The instrumental “Ciudad Fantasma” begins with some synths inspired by the nearest pulsar, and gradually adds on layer after layer of psychedelic soundscape, effectively challenging the laws of physics for three minutes. “Circo Infierno” is another more straight up, guitar heavy track, though once again they use the keyboards to punctuate key points throughout. There’s some great guitar harmonies on this one, and some of the albums most intense riffing. “Hacia El Avismo” starts off spacey and slow, eventually builds up steam, then alternates between the two approaches. It’s definitely one of the more straight up space rock tracks, with the wind-like synth sweeps dominating the scenery. “Caminos Maginales” also starts off with slower, more evil sounding riffs, and somehow Kayros is able to morph into a swinging major key vocals, which reminds me a lot of some of the songs off the first Core record. They end things with the drum heavy closer “Isanidad”, which starts off in a flurry of tribal toms and adds in lava laced guitars and sinister keyboard melodies. I thought that they were going for an instrumental add first, though the vocals finally come in towards the end of the track.
Kayros definitely prove that they’re a veteran band on this release, juggling rugged individuality with the classic influences of the stoner rock canon. They have a real knack for layering sounds on top of one another, whether it’s guitars, vocals or keyboards, and this allows them to ride out each riff for all its worth through the processes of theme and variation. I really enjoy this album tremendously. It’s not perfect, but it’s visionary. Fans of bands like Los Natas, Gas Giant and Astrosoniq should really get on board with this one, I haven’t heard a record like this since the early days of the stoner rock explosion.
Band Line Up:
José Ignacio Mora – Guitar/Vox • Sebastian Larrea – Guitar • Leo Mantis – Drums • Pancho Pavez – Bass
Words by Andy “Doowahdiddydiddy” Beresky