There was a time when I was pretty fixated on so-called ‘post-metal’ and many of the analogous scenes and genres. If it was a band with album art by Aaron Turner, wall-of-sound guitars and nautical and/or planetary themes, I was generally on board. But years went by, and I found myself veering away from the sound and into warmer psych realms.
It’s not that I ever fell out of love with post-metal entirely, it was just time away, so to speak. Ireland’s Raum Kingdom have succeeded in getting me back in the swing of things with Monarch, their latest release. For fans of Isis, Knut, Kowloon Walled City and the sludgier side of The Ocean, Raum Kingdom absolutely summon a bleak sonic wasteland and then some.
Red Admiral charges out of the sea with monstrously abrasive riffing, sounding somewhere between Yob and Will Haven. It’s a great and ferocious number with quieter and cleaner moments to provide for a tense contrast. What follows is the more atmospheric number Hairstreak which opens with somewhat gothic piano before a trade-off between baleful sung vocals and harsh screamed cacophony. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Neurosis’ Souls At Zero album, instilling a sense of unease and impending dread.
Raum Kingdom absolutely summon a bleak sonic wasteland and then some…
At under just ten minutes, the sprawling Swallowtail reminds me of a more ominous Elephant Tree with vox recalling early Tool. Vocalist Dave Lee really shines here, with his heartfelt singing not sounding out of place in a more ‘relaxed’ radio rock song format. At times the lyrics feel a bit clichéd, like late ‘90s/early ‘00s (‘STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!’), but they’re belted out with such conviction you cannot help but be moved.
Comma loses a bit of the impact of the previous tracks, falling into a similar format, but Gate Keeper is a heavy hitter. The final song Pieris is the most dynamic on the record by far. It bubbles with restrained melody and grows into a majestically noisy wall of sound that envelopes the listener, perhaps suggesting a glimmer of a semblance of hope in such a dark sounding album.
Raum Kingdom has shown quite a bit of growth with Monarch, it feels like the most well realized of their releases up until this point. It will be interesting to see what these four Irishmen create in the years to come.
Scribed by: Rob Walsh