Just the name Kongh evokes an imagine of some kind of primitive or mythical beast, even on the back of inlay the band refer to themselves as a ‘three headed primate’ and without hearing a single riff I already wanted to grab a hot blonde and climb to the roof of a tall building and beat my chest whilst yelling at the top of my voice, ‘Koooooonggggghh’!
So weird fantasies aside, the Swedish Doom merchants return with the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2007 debut album ‘Counting Heartbeats’ in bombastic style, pushing the envelope further in almost every direction of their sound.
This album is epic and sprawling, with an eye on the atmospherics that sets it apart from the usual flares wearing, Black Sabbath worship trap bands in this scene can fall into, by incorporating elements into their sound that could be influenced by Neurosis and fellow countrymen Cult Of Luna.
The first track ‘Unholy Water’ is the sound of a behemoth rising, clocking in a mere eleven and a half minutes, it’s huge pounding passages of noise assault you with intent after the obligatory intro. David Johansson’s vocals have a hardcore influence that add an edge to the guitars and helps to convey the sheer power that lies in this three piece. Even when he switches to a more melodic tone it is used sparely and is not there for a sense of pop accessibility but to offer light and shade as they lurch out of the stereo.
‘Essence Asunder’ follows a similar vein, an almost jaunty, upbeat start breaks into a huge monolithic slab of aggression, tempered with slow burning instrumental passages that tease out breaks in between the self proclaimed ‘riff-driven thunderstorm’.
The third track is a fairly ambient instrumental that serves almost as a lead in to the more urgent ‘Voice Of The Below’ which is probably the closet to what you would describe as the catchiest tune on the album. In comparison it is quite up tempo and the vocals are cleaner, accenting the work of Tomas Salonen (Drums) and Oskar Rydén (Bass) who do a great job of under pinning the songs to allow Johnasson to embellish the music with enough guitar flourishes to keep the attention.
The final (and title) track starts with a hypnotic piece of guitar work, the kind where if you were at a party partaking of the super strong skunk the government is so afraid of, you’d probably perk yourself up enough to demand everyone goes quiet and listens whilst you nod along sagely. It builds into a cascade of sound on the one hand, and then strips it back to a single jarring note much like the previously referenced Neurosis before taking you off on a rampaging journey of distortion and mammoth walls of riffing.
Doom can be a dangerously narrow field to plough, with all songs written stoned in a rehearsal room whilst Vol 4 and Masters of Reality go round in the background when the rolling duty is performed, Kongh have side stepped that cliché by keeping one eye on dynamics and the other on creating an incredibly atmospheric and decent sounding album that you can lose yourself in. It is this quality control that stops it becoming a snore fest really, the song lengths are typically epic to reflect the music, with five songs making up an album that is nearly an hour long and the instrument 3rd track clocking in at under five minutes it could have easily become an exercise in curing insomnia. Instead Kongh have struck the balance in managing to create a Doom album that entertains and at times surprises, sure your attention may wander slightly during a fifteen minute song, but there is always a hook not far away to bring you back.
I was going to round off with some smartarse crack about ‘Beauty and The Beast’ but there’s a high rise building over there and some chest beating to be done…
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden