Bovine – The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire

Jayaprakash Sathyamurty checks out the new album from Bovine titled ‘The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire‘, released via FDA Rekotz.

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Tracklist:
01. Barium
02. Ghost Chair
03. Thank Fuck I Aint You
04. Heroes Are What
05. The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire
06. The Battle Of The Sinkhole
07. Aneugenic
08. I Will make You Real
09. Military Wife
10. Not Another Name

The postcolonial dilemma: is this metal at all?

At first listen, Bovine might seem to sit in the neo-sludge metal camp ushered in by Baroness and Mastodon’s crossover success. Throw in some later-day stoner influence, mainly from the Josh Homme camp, and there you go. Certainly, once the brooding, minimal intro ‘Barium’ is over and ‘Ghost Chair’ bursts in, its sheer aggression and energy make for a most satisfying package. The vocals vary between a tuneful, soaring style and more tortured shouting. The guitars are massive and tight and the drums are slamming. There’s a great change in pace towards the end, and a final blast that is full of righteous intensity. It’s during ‘Thank Fuck I Ain’t You’ that I start thinking about Mastodon’s slow dilution of their own sound, Baroness’ drift from the poised artistry and heaviness of the Red Album and, well, of Muse. The soaring, modern Brit rock vocals, the bouncy bravado of the riff – it really isn’t too far away from the sound of Devon rockers.

‘Heroes Are What’ further underscores the modern rock sensibility with its clean opening, complete with those slightly anguished vocals that became a mainstay of the genre after Jeff Buckley’s success. The song then takes a swift turn into faster territory, but it’s more rocking than slamming. The riffing style itself is starting to grate on me a bit with its jaunty singlemindedness, a far cry from the intricacy of Mastodon in their prime, nevermind the acid-and-barbed-wire approach of the original wave of sludge acts from the NOLA area. The title track ups the ante a bit with a driving yet restrained build-up and more complex, probing melodies. Sure, it’s Leviathan Lite, but it’s a good song. ‘The Battle of the Sinkhole’ manages to make the most of a few transitions between moderate and fast passages, and has some great drumming. ‘I Will Make You Real’ is a standout, like the title track, heavy, layered and not without a certain subtlety. ‘Military Wife’ hints at some hardcore influences, along with a few glitchy effects. It has some very effective riffing too – much more convincingly heavy and interesting than the more alt/grunge fare that was all over the first half of the album, and the shifts in tempo really work this time. ‘Not Another Name’ is marred  by the fact that the band’s more shouty vocals just don’t have that much repeat value.

Bovine is a band that has a lot of buzz about it at this point, and I can see their mix of sludge, stoner, grunge and modern rock influences finding favour in a lot of places. Perhaps it’s a measure of my own preference for the more trudging, misanthropic aspects of the sludge idiom and my lack of enthusiasm for the linear qualities of modern rock that make me somewhat less sensitive to this album’s charms. So it’s a classic YMMV deal: if you like the sound of the mix of styles I’ve alluded to, this is a superior example of its kind. If not, well, Eyehategod should have an album out any year now.

Kongh – Sole Creation

Today we have  reviewer Jayaprakash Satyamurthy from the bangalore based band Djinn & Miskatonic doing a review of the new album from Kongh titled ‘Sole Creation‘. The record was released on the 5th of February via Agonia Records.

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Track listing:
1. “Sole Creation”
2. “Tamed Brute”
3. “The Portals”
4. “Skymning”

Review in Haiku – A Gradual Cataclysm

It’s hard to believe that it takes just three people to make such a massive sound, but there you have it. Kongh’s third full-length has all the ponderous poise and earth-shaking presence of its cinematic part-namesake, King Kong, perhaps in a freeze frame, caught leaping from one skyscraper to another in a doomed race for freedom. Bucking the ‘more is more’ trend of too many modern albums, the three musicians who constitute Kongh opt for a modest runtime of around 40 minutes, and that time is taken up by just four songs.  This in itself shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the doom/sludge sonic space Kongh operates in, but what matters is that these four songs are all massive, immersive journeys through vast riffs and hypnotic textures.

The title track, ‘Sole Creation’ is ushered in with a ritualistic drum beat and takes us firmly into pre-Superunknown classic grunge territory before moving into sections that are more in the Yob camp and even some stratospheric soundscapes that suggest post metal without the flab that genre is sometimes given to. The vocals are a surprise, and a pleasant one – instead of the one-dimensional approach often heard in this kind of expansive yet grimy music, they switch between a menacing, quavering and deep sludge-oriented style and a soaring, tuneful, but still burly delivery.

Stream the entire album on bandcamp below

‘Tamed Brute’ covers much of the same territory, featuring brilliant combinations of lead-footed riffage with soaring guitar squalls. There’s a definite tendency to go for the slow build, copped from the likes of Neurosis and with a similarly vast impact, like a gradual cataclysm. This approach also makes the most of the deep, rich guitar tone, giving it space to shimmer and roil, and let’s face it, a lot of doom/sludge fans are as much fans of hearing great guitar tone effectively deployed as anything else.

After two songs that never overstayed their welcome, despite their length, ‘The Portals’ doesn’t quite make the same impact. The main problem is that it’s simply more of the same, and doesn’t bring in the dose of diversity this album needs at this point. It’s still a superior song with some memorable, wailing lead work.

The final track, ‘Skymning’ makes up for any loss of interest. In this song, Kongh take the pace down a few notches, rolling out a meditative, almost ethereal soundscape with measured vocals and a laid-back, langorous pace that serves as a great offset from the intensity that has been sustained for so long and reminds us just how heavy the band actually gets elsewhere, in terms of sheer mass rather than tempo, of course. The craggy, grungy vocal delivery really comes into its own here, although still placed fairly low in the mix. 8 minutes in, the song moves into an incredibly effective endgame with wavering surf guitar chords streaming across a rhythmic backing that slowly evolves into a viscous, ropey sludge installation.

Long, spacey songs that can meander and soar without losing their way, a sound that is as psychedelic as it is heavy, and a doom/sludge approach that eschews any of the obvious stratagems of its genre – Kongh has crafted a Sole Creation to be proud of and an early entrant to any self-respecting riff maniacs’ best of 2013 list.

 

NOTE: If you want more of KONGH then stream away their last album “Shadows of the Shapeless” on the Soundcloud player attached below