Khirki – Κτηνωδία [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

Hard rock and post-grunge are pretty much dead to me. After being a huge fan of that kind of stuff in the mid-aughts, my tastes started to branch out into other avenues. Once that happened, every new record in that scene sounded the same as the last one, regardless of what band released what album. Seeing no evolution or novelty anywhere just confirmed for me that there was nothing left to look forward to. Then Khirki arrives, and I’m all fucked up. How dare the Greek trio choose fucking 20-goddamn-21 to release a post-grunge debut record, entitled Κτηνωδία, that actually rocks hard back to front?! The audacity is so thick I can’t see two feet in front of me.

Κτηνωδία makes a strong argument for itself initially by presenting a version of heavy rock that pulls deeply from the trio’s native folk scene. It does this by infusing tempos, beats, and rhythms that pulse with the same danceable exuberance as the most festive Greek music. The trio further supports its case by delivering unfuckwithable performances across the board, from the avid drumming to the incredible riff-craft to the rough-hewn vocals. In all ways, this debut is an outlier in a tired genre, a sparkling diamond in the rough.

Khirki implement exciting songwriting as its primary vehicle towards greatness. Nowhere is that truth better exhibited than in album highlight and SotY contender “Medea.” It starts off slow, with chanting verses backed by acoustic guitar chords and busking drumlines. The chorus reprises a couple of times before the song kicks into gear. It chugs along as any other song would, but halfway in something magical happens. An entire fucking drum circle tumbles into the scenery, bruising and grooving in an irresistible display of inspired coordination. If that alone doesn’t get your body moving then you truly are a lifeless vegetable. Luckily every song here brings that infectious groove with it, from the opening riff cavalcade that is “Deadpan,” to the high-octane mid-album high marks “Bukovo” and “The Barkhan Dunes,” to massive closer “Stara Planina.”

When I say that every song brings the goods, I don’t exaggerate, but Khirki’s goods encompass a wide range of flavors. “Wolf’s Lament” showcases the band’s unexpected doomy side, and they knock it out of the park to boot. It’s perfectly situated later in the tracklist to hit hard, but even on its own, the song kicks ass. “Raging Bull” and “Black and Chrome” offer a one-two bar-brawl punch early in the record, injecting a nice clean shot of adrenaline to fuel you through the feels-driven midsection. When the closer appears, it recalls the opener in that the riffs and choruses deeply embed themselves inside my cranium in record time, creating an exquisite bookend.

Khirki surprised the hell out of me with Κτηνωδία. I thought I’d never truly love a new post-grunge hard rock album for as long as I lived, but this is something special. I don’t even register what kind of music it is when I hit play. Κτηνωδία is simply too good for that to matter. It’s a raucous good time that deserves to be experienced over and over and over again. Cheers, Khirki! You guys fucking killed it.

Tracks to Check Out: “Deadpan,” “Medea,” “The Barkhan Dunes,” “Stara Planina”

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