A Review of “Salt” by KHôRADA

Salt

When the news came out about the emergence of KHôRADA I was super excited and intrigued to see what direction Don Anderson, Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker would go with the inclusion of Giant Squid’s brainchild AJ Gregory. To me this was quite the dichotomy of styles and influences that could in turn create an album so unique and mammoth that it would be genre-defining than genre-rehashing. I think this has always been the motivation of these talented musicians over the years, when Agalloch was an entity they always challenged themselves and went to higher levels of creativity, the same can be said about Giant Squid. What I see in KHôRADA’s album “Salt” is that Don, Jason, AJ and Aesop do not believe in a mediocre product, they have crafted a piece of music that is relevant, challenging and absolutely crushing. The heaviness in this album is beyond words, there is so much riffs that are doom-laden and just bleak. The sounds erupting from all the instruments absolutely engulfs you in suffocating, strange and otherworldly ways.

When you are first introduced to “Salt” there is a sound of distant horns heralding the end of the world. As the song progresses the helpless, and emotive vocals of AJ Gregory arise from the watery depths. His voice prophesizes the end of the world and the birth of the sixth mass extinction. After reading the lyrics of “Edeste” I came to the conclusion that “Salt” is going to be a hopeless, fatalistic, and nihilistic journey. As the album progressed the themes and emotions in music continued to grow and grow into utter despair and despondency. This may sound negative but I guarantee this is a positive, KHôRADA’s “Salt” is a tiring but important journey of the heart and soul. After multiple listens I was thinking more and more about mortality of not only myself but the whole of mankind. The guitars, bass, drums and vocals put the listener through a series of inner trials and tribulations and you come out of the fog with a different view of life and the inevitable doom that will follow.

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Photo Credit: Cody Keto Photography

As the album progresses the songs get more and more dense/evocative. As I am listening to all the nuances I am hearing snippets of Agalloch and Giant Squid. The guitar work of Don Anderson is always a stand out, the solos and leads he incorporates are very distinctive and melancholic. AJ Gregory’s guitars are a lot crunchier, and it really gives KHôRADA a unique identity. The one thing that really impressed me more than anything else is the bass and drum work of Jason and Aesop. The foundation they have built together really gives “Salt” such depth, intensity and heaviness. The drumming is just outstanding and there are a ton of bass leads and lines that are right at the forefront that makes the tracks all the gloomier.

The one thing you will notice above all else about “Salt” is the very apparent political statement found throughout AJ Gregory’s lyrics. He specifically said in the conception of “Salt” that it is a protest against the Trump-era and how this era will expedite the inevitable end of the world. There is such a sense of anger and hopelessness in the lyrics that it makes you really concerned about the future especially for future generations. Surprisingly enough AJ Gregory, Don Anderson, Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker tend to develop music at the most relevant times which increases the impact and weight of “Salt”. Truly this is a testament to the talent and skill they all have, I am really looking forward to seeing what type of album they will come up with next. When you have such gifted musicians in a project like KHôRADA the next album will inevitably be impactful and genre-defining. In the dark ages we are in now as human race a band like KHôRADA is the light found in the darkest recesses of the abyss.

Rating: 8/10

Official Site: https://www.khorada.com

Bandcamp: https://khorada.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khorada/

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Photo Credit: Cody Keto Photography

A Conversation with Jason W. Walton

 

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Bassist Jason W. Walton of Khorada, ex-Agalloch, Snares of Sixes, Self Spiller, Nothing, Dolven, Especially Likely Sloth and many other musical acts has been a pillar in the Pacific Northwest metal community. He was one of the original members of Agalloch and then went on to do a new and highly-anticipated project Khorada with fellow ex-Agalloch band members Don Anderson, Aesop Dekker and Aaron John Gregory of Giant Squid. I wanted to learn more about his music projects, vision and hope for the future in regards to being a musician. Me like many others are waiting with bated breath to see what Khorada will sound like in the meantime we can look forward to hearing his new project Snares of Sixes which he talks about at length in the interview below.

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You have been working on multiple projects for many years now, out of all the works you have done what do you think stood out the most to you as an artist?

JWW:  Albums I’ve been a part of stand out to me for different reasons. Agalloch’s “The Mantle” jumps to mind immediately because of the critical acclaim it received and how that afforded us to tour and bring Agalloch to places we never imagined going.  On the other hand, the debut Snares of Sixes ep that I just finished stands out as well, because that was a beast of a record and is easily my most ambitious recording to date.  Every recording I’ve been a part of has been important or noteworthy to me, because each acts as a stepping stone and a learning experience for the next one.

A lot of your works are tied to electronic, ambient and drone scapes what made you want to go this direction? What about this style do you like most?

JWW:  I first started working in these styles because I loved the freedom it afforded me.  I loved being able to work alone.  I could compose, record and perform entirely by myself if I wanted, and didn’t have to rely on others to get work done.  The nature of the music itself is basically limitless as well and I feel very free to do whatever I can possibly imagine.  

Is there any new or interesting things you can update our readers with about Khorada?

JWW:  As of right now, there is not much to report.  We have news coming soon, but as of right now I can tell you that we are deep within writing our debut album.  I feel like we are at the point where we have found our voice as a band, and are refining our sound.

What direction do you hope to accomplish with Khorada?

JWW:  I don’t really want to use too many descriptors or make too many comparisons just yet, as the music can still change quite a bit at this point.  We all came into this being very aware of our previous bands, and not wanting to repeat those themes, or ideas. Obviously, when you have ¾ of Agalloch in a new band, there are going to be some undeniable elements of Agalloch in Khorada, and of course, there will be things reminiscent of Giant Squid as well, due to AJ’s large role in Khorada.  

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In regards to your influences and points of inspiration what are some triggers that allow you to create and conceive new ideas?

JWW:  It really depends on the band. Khorada is lyrically and thematically controlled by AJ.  Of course we all have ideas thrown in here and there, but that is largely AJ’s department.  For a band like Snares of Sixes or Self Spiller, I typically focus on a single idea, or a feeling, and work around that. Self Spiller’s “Worms in the Keys” album was written around themes of travel, homesickness, allergies and being caught in an unfamiliar space. The Snares record I just finished is literally about Kombucha, yeast and bacteria.  Many of these ideas have come from books I’ve read, or experiences I’ve had.  

You have done many tours over the years, in your eyes what do you think was the most memorable?

JWW:  I think the most memorable tour for me was the first time we went to Europe. Most of us had never been to Europe before, so playing to audiences all over Europe was unreal.  Also we had a month long tour with Fen in Europe, and that tour was highly enjoyable.  Usually for me, I remember stand out shows, or places, not necessarily tours. London, Copenhagen, Lithuania, Tel Aviv, Bucharest. These are the places and shows that are the most memorable for me.

You have been working with Don Anderson, and Aesop Dekker for many years now, what about them do you admire most and with this new chapter in your life has your creation process changed at all with them?

JWW:  Don and Aesop are amazing musicians, and my closest friends. They always push me and challenge me as a musician. Aesop rarely plays the same way twice. He is always trying new things and is not afraid to experiment. This pushes me to be quick on my feet and forces us to lock in together and feed off of each other. Don’s command of the guitar is inspiring. He knows enough theory to be dangerous, but loves punk enough to not be a snob. Within an hour of Agalloch breaking up, the three of us had a group text going about what we were going to do next. There was absolutely no reason for us to stop playing together.

Have you taken on even more songwriting duties with Khorada, and if so what are some ideas you decided to run with?

JWW:  Writing as a bassist is a very odd thing. Of course writing basslines to existing guitar parts is one thing, but writing the foundation is tricky. It’s very hard to listen to a line of singular notes and imagine what can come out of that. We did that with Agalloch once. I wrote the foundation to “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” this way and it was very rewarding.  We are trying a similar approach with Khorada but AJ and Don are writing the lion’s share of the music.  

If you could think of three words to describe Khorada’s sound what would they be?

JWW:  Hungry, heavy and beautiful.

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Do any of your outside interests help you conceive new ideas at all?

JWW:  Most definitely. My love of cooking heavily informed the Self Spiller debut, and a couple years ago I became quite passionate about brewing Kombucha which was the inspiration for Snares of Sixes “Yeast Mother” EP.  

And finally where do you hope to see yourself as a musician in 2017?

JWW:  In 2017 I plan to record with Khorada, and hopefully start booking some shows with them as well. I also plan on releasing the Snares EP, and recording more Snares. I’ve also assembled a live band for Snares and we hope to start performing this Winter or Spring.

Bandcamp: https://jwalton.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khorada/?fref=ts