Kongh: Sole Creation

If album number three from Kongh doesn't bring increased attention, nothing will. Sole Creation is an absolute colossus.


Sole Creation

Label: Agonia
US Release Date: 2013-02-14
Label website
Artist website

It's frequently the third album that's all-important, signaling whether a band will be stepping it up a notch or forever remaining in the shadows. For some bands, that means tweaking their sound to take a stab at greater commercial success, and heavy metal's timeline is littered with acts that shifted into the big leagues off the back of album number three. However, for countless other metal bands the third album has nothing to do with any commercial aspirations, it's simply the moment when a band is sure enough in its footing to stretch out artistically. In the best cases, everything falls into place as a result.

Sole Creation, the adventurous third album from Swedish sludgy doom duo Kongh, definitely falls into that category. In broadening the band's sound, guitarist, bassist and vocalist David Johansson, and Drummer Tomas Salonen, have beefed up Kongh's constitution significantly. With tremolo flickers, a guest appearance from John Doe from Craft, increased vocal variations, and an intensification of the thundering atmospherics, they've created a dynamic, groove-laden odyssey that eclipses their previous work.

To be fair to Kongh, although Sole Creation is a silver-backed menacing monster, the band was hardly a lightweight to begin with. Kongh's 2007 full-length, Counting Heartbeats (nominated for a Swedish P3 Guld Award), and 2009's Shadows of the Shapeless were mammoth works of feedback-framed riffing. However, as great as those albums are, in the overflowing pool of sludge and doom artists, any halfway decent band can sculpt albums of intimidating size--if it's one thing metal isn't short of, it's monolithic riffs. But what Kongh have achieved on Sole Creation isn't about elevating its sound to more ominous heights, it's about expanding its dimensions.

On Sole Creation, Kongh shows astute handling of its tonnage. The new album is more imaginative, melodic and nuanced than past work, but doesn't sacrifice an ounce of the band's intrinsic brute strength. In terms of its sheer sonic magnitude, Sole Creation is an awe-inspiring endeavor. Produced by Peter Lundin, and mixed and mastered by Cult of Luna's Magnus Lindberg, the album has a Herculean guitar tone. But what Kongh does best is exhibit a finely tuned integration of a post-hardcore mood, and more progressive and psychedelic doom.

Sole Creation consists of four songs, and clocks in at over 45 minutes, which, as you've no doubt surmised, means there are lengthy tunes within. However, like the work of a similar marathon songsmith such as Yob, Kongh wrests control of its strident sound to engulf, not mangle. Kongh balances the titanic weight of Sole Creation expertly, ensuring the richer melodies are not trampled by the leviathan riffs and accompanying waves of distortion. The band constructs tensile songs that are technical, but not so technical that they become lost in a progressive haze.

The clearest indication of how Sole Creation differs from Kongh's previous releases is its density. Previously, the band was thickset enough, but the bass-quaking dirge of "The Portals", the pitch and sway undercurrent of "Sole Creation", and the steamrolling 13 minutes of "Skymning" (with its doomscape psychedelia in full flight) sees Kongh stack riff upon riff--lurching between rumbling, acid-dripping passages, droning sections and juggernaut rampages.

It’s all a firm lesson in composure, because no matter how tumultuous it becomes, the gradients of the rhythms and tremolo pickings are never smothered by the glutinous riffing, or the corpulent bass. That's not to suggest Kongh has held back in any way; Sole Creation is highly abrasive and treacherous. But a track like "Tamed Brute" shows just how much Salonen's strapping yet shrewd percussion adds to the album, and the more varied vocals from Johansson (clean, melodic, howled and growled) work to support the harmonies within.

Such elements give the album an old-school temper in parts--albeit one shaking with the full-force seismic strength of contemporary sludge. Still, there's no denying that Sole Creation feels very much like an album that tips its hat to fundamental blues-soaked doom--and that's there in every furrow that every song plows. The album feels organic and authentic, and there's nothing forced or disingenuous in Kongh's decision to expand its sound.

If album number three from Kongh doesn't bring increased attention, nothing will. Sole Creation is an absolute colossus, and just like its large-headed, short-necked simian inspiration, there's a great deal of intelligence behind its abundant strength.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.