Kongh Shadows of the Shapeless

Kongh Shadows of the Shapeless
Released last year in Europe on Trust No One Recordings, Kongh's second album thankfully reaches North American shores under the aegis of the keen-eared Seventh Rule label. Shadows of the Shapeless is one of this year's early favourites, as it effortlessly mixes knuckle-dragging doom with Isis-styled thunder. Opener "Unholy Water" reeks of The Illusion of Motion-era Yob, with David Johansson's dual vocal assault: mid-range growls peppered with warbly clean tones. Bassist Oskar Ryden and drummer Tomas Salonen are epically locked in a struggle to wrest rhythms from each other. The calm-before-the-storm intro to the 15-minute "Essence Asunder" lopes along lazily, as Johanssen's languid guitar replies in kind to Salonen's bass, after which the entire structure falls headlong into Yob-like swamp riffs. The relatively brief (at four minutes) "Tänk På Döden" references the elongated, shimmering chords of Hyatari, almost plaintively uttering for a respite from despair. Kongh reprise that mood midway through "Voice of the Below," though most of the cut roars forth like classic High on Fire, honouring Matt Pike's sonic approach in every smothering note. The title track, another 15-minute exemplar of gloom, builds up and tears down walls of echoing riffage with shards of Callisto-like radiance captured within its many folds. Not only are Kongh reaping the critical rewards of this outstanding album, but the Swedish trio are also paying homage to their forested province of Småland with the bleak yet cathartic Shadows of the Shapeless. (Seventh Rule)