March 25, 2010 | , | 4.5

Kongh, Shadows of the Shapeless

Kongh: Shadows of the Shapeless

I sat in a vegetative state for a good long while after first hearing Kongh‘s Shadows of the Shapeless. For 57 plus minutes I sat there; still — glued to every ounce of sludge, grit, doom, atmosphere and bludgeoning fierceness that oozed from, thundered through and otherwise decimated my meager stereo. Fifty seven minutes of some of the most smoothly flowing, monumental and caustic doom I’ve heard in a very long time.

Sweden’s Kongh seamlessly tie progressive elements into what is essentially a very well written and performed doom album. Thick rhythms ebb and swell like a movie score while crushing riffs provide a dense atmosphere for the five tracks that nearly encompass an hour’s time. Sure the songs are lengthy, but they never meander or drift, instead driving your forward to the album’s inevitable climax and end.

Unholy Water
“Unholy Water” starts off the journey with atmosphere setting guitars for the first few seconds before some massive riffs and drumming progressively join into the mix. This slow build up lasts a minute or so before the guys settle into a punishing series of riffs and drums. When the vocals finally kick in they are slightly distant, mid-range screams that are swapped out periodically for raspy, cleaner sounding wails. The overall feel of the monstrous opening track is dense and suffocating, yet takes the time to develop and breathe which ultimately gives the plenty of variety and life. The lead at 7:32 nearly gets swallowed whole by the accompanying swell of noise. This is definitely one hell of an album opener.

Essence Asunder
For as doomy and atmospheric as “Holy Water” was, this next one takes those attributes and layers on some solid groove and sludge. The lighter opening, oddly enough, carries the opener cleanly into the bluesy, swampy tone of the guitars that dominate “Essence Asunder.” After the first 2:50 of that bluesy, soothing guitar, the massive wall of sludge hits heavy with more distant, tortured screams. The textures found throughout this song only add to the dense feel and sludgy tones. This 15 minute long song has some seriously slick atmosphere, emotion and ebb/flow that keeps you fully enthralled till the last sorrowful tone has faded.

Tänk på döden
Coming in at just under five minutes, “Tänk på döden” is the shortest song by far, yet its inward gazing feel doesn’t feel any less powerful than the other four songs. For the most part, it’s a slowly moving instrumental that’s a bit brighter in tone and feel, but mostly it serves as the calm before the storm — the more uptempo “Voice of the Below.”

Voice of the Below
Carrying the slightly brighter tone from the previous track, “Voice of the Below” is more open, but no less destructive with thick riffs and more dynamic drum work. The vocals are more cleanly delivered but do shift to the raspy screams here and there. Man, this is a meaty song with creative, memorable guitars and impressive drum work. The thick bass lays down some heaviness like no tomorrow. The quieter portion of the song stretches through the four minute mark nicely, but never loses the albums momentum, especially as it ramps back up with heavy riffs and tortured vocals. “Voice of the Below” is another amazing song that only builds your anticipation for what is arguably the best song on the album.

Shadows of the Shapeless
The title track transitions in quietly from the reverb that closed out “Voice of the Below” with light guitars and drums that builds slowly in tone and volume over the course of the first two minutes before giving way to thick, doomy, swampy riffs that are just dripping with well used bong water. The tone of the song through the three minute mark is much darker and foreboding than the opening guitars. This section of crawling riffs and vocals is impressive as hell and nicely timed. After listening to this song (in addition to the rest of the album, of course) I was left dazed — honestly surprised that such an album took a year to get to the US market. This is a must have for any doom fan. Period.

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