[15 April 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
As we’re just getting ourselves settled into Kongh’s second album, it feels like we’re going to be in for the kind of crushing, funereal doomfest that so many other Swedish bands excel at. Which is cool; after all, when done well, that monstrously heavy, dirge-like music can sound extraordinary. However, ten minutes into Shadows of the Shapeless the young trio pulls the rug out from under us, as the morose lumbering is subtly replaced by a genuine swagger. In fact, it’s performed so convincingly, they could easily pass for an American underground band (perhaps a reason why they’ve recently signed to Chicago’s great label Seventh Rule). “Voice of the Below” is a gargantuan homage to Southern sludge, guitarist Davis Johansson carting out riff after riff that smack of Eyehategod’s Jimmy Bower, while the brooding title track morphs into a crawling, malevolent beast of a tune, pinch squeals punctuating the churning riffs, the song climaxing in a burst of devastating palm-mutes. Best of the lot, though, is the 15 minute “Essence Asunder”, which explores the kind of psychedelic territory that American doom kings YOB have always excelled at, and pulls it off nearly as brilliantly as their Stateside counterparts. It’s easy to draw different comparisons to the various aspects of this album, but coming from a place where doom metal tends to be a touch on the predictable side, this album is a very refreshing departure.