Piece de Resistance
I have to admit it: if somebody was to ask me which nation over the last few years has excited me the most in terms of its musical output, my answer would probably be France. The majority of my favourite discoveries seem to have come from across the Channel of late, with a constant slew of previously hidden gems being unearthed. Poitiers-based arty metalheads Klone are another addition to the list, rooted firmly in the more ingenuous sect of progressive music and displaying a similarly forward-thinking approach to songwriting that will draw comparisons to Porcupine Tree, Tool and A Perfect Circle whilst adding their own blend of dreamy alternative rock to the mix. But far from thriving off other bands' sounds as their name might suggest, their evolution into a unique powerhouse is culminated here with album number four. If 2010's Black Days was a step forward for the band, The Dreamer's Hideaway is the same again and more besides.
The more experimental facet of their sound still appears only sporadically over the course of the album; an observation that brings forth the feel of a band still testing the water with new ideas and concepts. Yet it's the little touches, such as Matthieu Metzger's smooth saxophone playing, that define the music; without these, every song and every album would be no more than Klones (sacre bleu) of each other. In fact it's only when the impressive title track has ended that it becomes apparent that Klone's prog-leanings go further than expected after the straight-line hard rock blast of Rocket Smoke; the freeform jazz notes contributing to the song's poignancy. The heavier moments bring to mind fellow countrymen Gojira, but again these moments only pop up now and then. Klone instead embrace immediacy and melody; the majority of the time opting for a simpler life than one they perhaps began exploring on previous EP The Eye Of Needle.
Into The Void heads back into A Perfect Circle territory whilst the sweeping waltz of Siren's Song lives up to its title, drawing in with infectious melody and effortless groove. Yann Ligner's vocals are consistently strong and are a key aspect of Klone's overall sound, nodding more than briefly at Maynard James Keenan along the way. The excellent Rising sees the band in full riff-mode, proving they still know how to get heavy when they want to, all the while maintaining their ever-enveloping wash of melody and progressive leanings. The Worst Is Over (clearly not referring to the preceding tracks on the album) is seven minutes of Klone at their very best; a slick amalgamation of riff-heavy, intelligently crafted progressive melodic metal that could only be their own.
At The End Of The Bridge brings the album dreamily to an end of what has been an immensely enjoyable listen. Perhaps it's time for Klone to start taking a few more risks with their music, or perhaps berating them for not evaporating into progressive pretentiousness is wholly unfair and a more straight forward outlook is exactly where they shine the brightest. Either way, The Dreamer's Hideaway is the sound of a band at the top of their current game; meandering around swathes of hard rock and progressive metal that sees the band maintaining a fresh sound and returning stronger than ever with their fourth album. Their songs may not grab hold instantaneously, but allow them to breathe and the hooks begin to appear out of nowhere in their droves, turning this into their finest release to-date. Vive Klone!