Kongh – Shadows of the Shapeless

Kongh – Shadows of the Shapeless (Trust No One Recordings)


Realising what a band can achieve in such a brief period, I was more than anxious for the new effort of Sweden-based band Kongh. As their appearance in last year’s Roadburn Festival blew my mind off, and the first samples in their myspace page sounded like heaven in my mind, my eagerness was growing, especially when I noticed a black metal approach in some points. Fuck yeah.

The whole thing begins with the ideal “Unholy Water”, a great take-off for an amazing album. The riff prepares the listener for something that holds you pinned to your soundsystem, which is more than satisfactory. And it keeps going like that – these guys sure can make you headbang without great effort. Thanks to (but not limited in) the beautiful changes that hold each of the tracks together, I can say with certainty that, in comparison to “Counting Heartbeats”, this is a completely satisfying effort and surely more than just okay. On the other hand, Kongh have chosen an approach expressed in lengthy tracks, sometimes larger than 11 or 15 minutes, something which entails the trap of repetition and of fillers. Good thing is though, Kongh surpass these dangers with ease, and as if this wasn’t enough, they come off so cool in putting their ideas to practice, that you don’t even realize the full length of their songs. And why should you care? Alternating between crushing and mellow riffing, making excellent use of dynamics and changes between growls and shouts (the vocals here stand somewhat apart from your general scene-band) and finally resulting in a beautiful production, you can’t help but immerse yourself in their effort.

And if all this wasn’t enough, I reach “Essence Asunder” and hear guitarist David Johansson playing the blues with a melancholy and nostalgia straight from the icy swedish core, only to conclude in a 15-minute sludge/doom orgy. And with the same ease, these Swedes prevail over half the so-called ‘post metal’ scene that tries to pass misery as melancholy. Funny thing is, Kongh haven’t suddenly invented the wheel overnight. Quite the contrary. But they’ve learned to incorporate in all the right ways these things that make their music great. Their influences are there (and I’m too bored to start namedropping the usual suspects of the post-metal/doom scene right now – Kongh don’t deserve that anyway) – but let me assure you, there are no clopyrights here. Just a straight dose of inspiration. And the track ends in a murky swamp with the faintest glimmer of clean vocals, miles ahead of the viral hilariousness that has infected the recent wave of music. They’re authentic all the way to the bone, and it’s just impossible to see it under another light. Everything here is in its right place.

Should I mention some essential differences between this and their debut album, I’d start with the way they sound now. The production is overwhelmingly heavy – for example, the up-tempo “Voice of the Below”. Riffing that even Pike in the new High on Fire record would be jealous of, and a result that is something to be followed and imitated from now on. Apart from the awesome production (yes, I’m stressing the point) there is a big difference in atmosphere. They have put great effort in this aspect of their music, with clever and minimal musicianship, ingenuous melodies and rhythms that actually work. The way Kongh play, in general, is very personal, although I must repeat that this isn’t something completely original – but that’s not the point, as far as they’re concerned. They just want to put to their music what’s gnawing their insides. Said gnawer is dark and lurking. The result is something close to sludge but without expenses in the heavy/in-your-face department, which is quite an accomplishment. Sadly the lyrics aren’t available yet, so their exact themes are quite obscure, but the vocals emit a rotten, escapist vibe. I’m all for it, since, based on the vocals alone, it feels completely right.

Reaching the last track, “Shadows of the Shapeless”, one can only admire Kongh’s talent in lenghty compositions without boring the listener one bit. The beginning is seductive, only to evolve in a heavier-than-heavy riff and conclude in a doom phantasmagoria. It’s almost funny that they can play so simple, and yet with such functionality. My admiration is doubled when I think that I saw them live last year and they made me want to explore them better. Their debut is good on the one hand, but on the other this album is much more addictive. The fact that these are young guys we’re talking about, full of inspiration, vision and balls, is perhaps the most important one. Trust No One Recordings should be worshipped, and I can’t help but await the vinyl pressing (in which, I presume, the artwork will be awesome and will create even more unity in the whole), as well as the new effort from Switchblade. Invest in them without a second thought.

~ by Θ. on 2009/08/30.

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