Sole Creation

Kongh hit a bit of a sophomore slump on their last album. Enjoyable as Shadows of the Shapeless was, it was hurt by some monotonous riffing and a one dimensional atmosphere. Certainly nowhere close to bad, but it didn’t exactly have me craving a follow up. Now it’s four years on and a lot has changed. The band parted ways with their long time bass player and took a new approach to songwriting for their next album. Album number three is here and it’s clear their new approach has paid off in a big fucking way. Sole Creation is Kongh’s best album yet. Heavy, diverse, dense, and bleeding character, these Swedes have crystallized their influences in an excellent mélange of sludge/doom with glints of death and black metal.

Sole Creation’s four lengthy tracks sprawl out over 44 minutes, the shortest song running just a shade over nine. Right from the opening riffing and initial bombast of “Sole Creation” it’s easy to hear this is a changed band. David Johansson, who handled the recording of all the vocals, guitars, and bass, has shifted away from the one dimensional growls of Shadows and Counting Heartbeats to employ a variety of vocal styles. The growls are still here, shifting from low death metal to higher pitched shrieks and the familiar roar from earlier material, but they are tempered and balanced impressively by his clean vocals. There’s a little Ozzy, a little Layne Staley, and even a twinge of Steve Brooks in them.

The tracks reflect the new vocal dynamism.  “Sole Creation” opens with the familiar early Isis inflected sludgy doom, this time with a little more momentum. “Tamed Brute” builds on a low slung riff ala Floor with the vocals taking on a closer resemblance to the Floor/Torche frontman’s emotive croon before delving into doomy riffing and low vocal growls. The track peaks with a short burst of double bass and death metal riffing before fading out with some doom dirge. “The Portals” starts with more post-hardcore before the double bass kicks in, the riffing picks up and a nice section of black metal inspired rage emerges. “Skymning”, the final track, is a atmospheric sludge/doom song, reminiscent of Cult of Luna or Neurosis, slowly developing and building on one of the biggest riffs of the album.

The songs are long, but never feel dragged out. There’s no unnecessary repetition of riffs, a problem that cursed of Shadows of the Shapeless, and the restrained use of double bass and tremolo picked riffs is immensely effective. The songs feel compact and tight and everything is all ensconced in a robust production, mixed and mastered by Cult of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg. Sole Creation is Kongh’s best album yet and is the best thing I’ve heard thus far in 2013. Between Cult of Luna’s newest, Sole Creation, and the prospect of a new Pyramido album, Sweden may have a sludge triumvirate in 2013 to match 2012’s stoner rock trifecta Witchcraft, Graveyard, and the Graviators.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
February 14th, 2013


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