Release DetailsLABEL Agonia Records
RELEASED ON 2/5/2013
...it certainly says something about Kongh that they can be realistically compared to their biggest influence.
Like any form of art that has been around for a decent period of time, there exist within heavy metal those making a strong evolutionary push forward, those who would uphold what they see as proper tradition, and everything in between. (Any “proper tradition” is cut out of some stage in said evolution, so that’s up to plenty of interpretation.) Very rarely is anyone free of some plagiarism, and no one’s work exists within a silo. However, there is a certain type of plagiarism that stands out more than just applying a cookie cutter job. This involves aping only the most distinctive traits of a highly regarded band, which often creates an impression that other aspects are also being borrowed. (For example, Cobalt sounds nothing like Tool, but on Gin the drums had a bit of a Danny Carey flavor to them, and naturally some folks only heard that aspect.)
This brings us to Sole Creation, the third full length from Sweden’s heavy sludge/doom warriors Kongh. With a mix that borrows a little from several top acts of modernish doom and sludge, they have melded a sound that is not only punishing but versatile. However, a couple of the most distinctive traits of their sound have such a kinship with Yob that it may be hard to separate for some listeners -- it was for me, for a bit -- particularly when Kongh isn’t quite at the level of the West Coast masters. Not quite, but they’re getting close.
Perhaps Yob’s most singular characteristic is the widely varying vocals of Mike Scheidt, especially his high, shrill wails that pierce right through the molten doom beneath. The vocals of Kongh’s David Johansson show a similar variety, shifting from the harshest screams and near-death growls to very Scheidt-ish wails and other deliveries. While Johansson’s execution of these piercing lines is not quite to the level of Scheidt, they nonetheless define some of the album’s key moments, such as the first vocal appearance in “Tamed Brute” or the chorus of the opening title track, and as a result the Yobbish qualities tend to be highlighted more than is probably accurate.
Because quite honestly, the vocals are the only aspect of Kongh’s sound that really connect them more to Yob than any other act playing sludgy, heavy-as-a-titan’s-balls doom... Sure, there is a pretty ample supply of simplistic, crushing riffage and the occasional massive groove, but Kongh just as often employs an eerie sense of tortured melody that might remind listeners of Rwake, or a chugging doom method more similar to very early Isis. The band also possesses a pretty keen sense of dynamics that is employed in all four tracks (it only feels overwrought in the slow-starting finale “Skymning”), and occasionally smatters in some mildly proggy riffage.
So, for the most part, Sole Creation has plenty to survive on its own, and on closer inspection the only real shortcoming here might not be some homage to heroes, but rather a sense of holding back. This band is seriously talented, but the level of payoff is short of its potential. The album’s well conceived dynamics need maximum crests, but the only passage that truly possesses apocalyptic weight is the ludicrously heavy finale of “Tamed Brute.” Exhaust everything, whenever possible, not just once or twice.
It’s a clear case of so damn close, and it certainly says something about Kongh that the band can be realistically compared to their biggest influence. They’ve got that it factor to rise above the murk of a saturated genre, and even if much of Sole Creation doesn’t gain a ton of distinction based on style, it does based on quality. The mixture of the unique and excellent gases hasn’t quite reached the optimum level for an explosion of universal recommendation, but there’s little doubt that many a dirty doomster will find a walloping good time within.