Sole Creation

Written by: AP on 20/06/2013 11:31:31

I must confess to not being the greatest fan of doom, except of course the sort professed by Black Sabbath and their influenced kin, and thus I am perhaps not the most obvious candidate for reviewing this, Kongh's third studio album "Sole Creation". That its predecessor, the 2009 effort "Shadow of the Shameless", was not unconditionally loved by our extreme metal aficionado Ellis 'EW' Woolley, only adds to my weariness with regard to passing appropriate judgment on its merits and pitfalls.

Kongh, for those not in the know, are quite revered in their native Sweden, having received almost universally rave reviews from across the European continent for their 2007 debut "Counting Heartbeats"; earning a nomination for the best rock/metal album in the P3 Guld awards that same year; and being featured as the number one artist to watch in Scandinavia's largest rock/metal magazine Close-Up two years later. In order to form an impression of what they might sound like, one needs only to inspect the credits on the CD booklet and carry out a quick Google search: first, "Sole Creation" was mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna fame, so quite predictably the soundscape conjured here is vast and expansive (though not in that celestial sense customary to post-metal), with songs that have all the feel of a slab of lead smacked into one's face; and second, in recent times the band has toured extensively with American doom metal legends YOB, from whom I suspect Kongh have distilled considerable influence given the long-winding nature of the songs, and especially the murky tone employed throughout.

"Sole Creation" is very much the archetypical doom album in that despite clocking in at 45 minutes, it comprises just four songs, much of which are spent in droning contemplation. But where other doom albums that have surfaced of late, such as the brilliant "To Reap Heavens Apart" by Procession and the equally impressive "Sorrow and Extinction" by Pallbearer, there is little in these sections to uphold the listener's undivided attention - a fact most likely owing to Kongh's preference of sludge infused constancy rather than the beautiful lingering melodies employed by the aforementioned bands. There are excellent riffs to be savoured elsewhere though, such as in the eponymous opening track, which boulders on at a moderate pace to the tune of an eerie, blackened lead, ebbing and flowing through 10 minutes of muted terror and periods of crushing escalation. It is a song that captures the quintessence of doom: obscurity, menace and cogitation; and sadly one that sets an impossible precedent for the remaining three takes on the LP.

One could be forgiven for believing "Tamed Brute" to be a b-side off Mastodon's "Crack the Skye", particularly in terms of the strange, howling vocals; though this 12-minute behemoth never achieves the same sort of grandeur, nor boasts as elaborate a song structure as a song from that disc. It, and the concluding piece "Skymning" are quality tracks to be sure, but both lack the necessary revelation(s) to form a lasting impression - the latter, in particular, is strewn across 14 minutes of runtime without ever justifying the additional minutes. "The Portals" is more Black Cobra than doom, featuring a brooding, yet magnificent blastbeat backed crescendo beginning around the 05:30 mark, which emerges as one of the standout moments of the album, but the remaining sections prevent it from attaining that title for the entirety of the song. As a whole then, Kongh's third effort "Sole Creation" is a sound if not extraordinary piece of sludgy doom metal with hints and touches of post- and black metal thrown in for measure as well. It is certainly worth a listen, but probably won't feature on any best of 2013 lists.


Download: Sole Creation, The Portals
For the fans of: Dark Castle, Rwake, YOB
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.02.2013
Agonia Records

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