Shadows Of The Shapeless
posted on 2/2010 By:
Damn, if Seventh Rule doesn’t have a knack for plucking fuck-heavy bands out of obscurity and depositing them on my doorstep. Between Akimbo, Lord Mantis, Wetnurse, and Sweet Cobra, this
Put simply, Shadows of the Shapeless is a doom metal album. And perhaps simply is the best way to put it, because this disc is damn near impossible to pigeonhole beyond that general appellation. If you choose to sift Kongh for more specific strains of influence, you’ll find super-saturated stoner heft, sludgy grit, psychedelic rock flights of fancy, expanses of droning feedback, and crushing death metal brutality. But this isn’t some piecemeal exercise in style-stacking; Kongh blend their palette with the expert control of a master painter. The nearest point of reference I can think of is YOB, and the American doom kingpins have clearly made quite an impact on this power trio (serious emphasis on the power).
Like most releases of its general ilk, Shadows of the Shapeless is a draining listen. Its five tracks comprise about an hour of music; every composition except for the contemplative “Tänk På Döden” falls in the ten-to-fifteen-minute range. But thanks to Kongh’s exquisite sense of dynamics, this album never drags, and for the most part it’s more than capable of holding your rapt attention.
Opener “Unholy Water,” with its elephantine swagger and clanging, psyched-out guitars, could fool an impatient listener into considering Kongh a YOB clone…and if they indeed were, I personally wouldn’t complain. But they’re not, and they’re quick to prove it with the tortuous sludge and ethereal arpeggios of “Essence Asunder.” At other times, Kongh’s melodic sensibility is strangely bright—“Voice of the Below” bounds with cheerfully destructive energy, like an avalanche on a beautiful spring day.
Shadows of the Shapeless saves its best moments for last. The album’s titanic, eponymous closer sees the band pull out all the stops: soothing clean guitars, oppressive slow-motion grooves, spacefaring melodies, a nearly anthemic vocal hook, and a painfully intense chugging climax that nearly caused my apartment building to collapse under its unbelievable weight.
Kongh’s rhythm section is as tight and burly as you please, and their capacity for deceptive cadences is crucial to the band’s songwriting. But frontman David Johansson is easily the band’s most compelling figure (as, perhaps, he ought to be). His half-lurching-half-soaring guitarwork is among the best I’ve heard in doom over the last few years. Likewise, he splits his vocal facetime between a distant black metal rasp and perfectly delivered gruff melodies that do wonders for the band’s epic songs.
These guys don’t have an extensive discography—Shadows is their second longplayer, and they’ve put out a split and a demo. Given the sheer talent on display here, though, I’m about to be hot in pursuit of their older material. Kongh could be a serious force in the doom world within a few years, and this album is an essential purchase for the genre’s devotees.
Register to post comments.