The decline of Melville after the ‘great peak’ of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale was long contributed to side-effects of the research for his next book, which centered around biographical novels like Confessions of the Opium Eater that dealt a narrative of addiction and psychological disarray. Be it the influence of religious conservatism ah via Disraeli, the philosophical satire of Thomas Carlyle, or the ramblings of Thomas De Quincey driving the total collapse of Melville‘s idiosyncratic style the resulting mental ooze that was Pierre; or, The Ambiguities is not remembered as a classic but a moderate embarrassment. Today it reads like a ranting, paranoid psychological thriller written in a time and place when Gothic horror was certainly not earning prestige. Considered morally bereft and diabolically ‘psychological’ beyond the occasional lunacy of Moby-Dick, which the press likewise weren’t impressed by, a niche classic can easily be left in the dust amidst the flow of followers who may exist in spite of its influences. This lesson of niche and nuance amongst unremarkable influence must be applied to the modern glut of music that assaults those curious of what floats to the most visible layers of underground metal. Stockholm, Sweden based and sludge-fueled psychedelic doom metal trio Domkraft wear obvious influences in terms of sound but the trip they’re on stretches itself wide and weird as their brand of slow-motion stoner metal practically eases its way out of any speaker it hits.
The inherent hypnosis of Domkraft, which more or less means jack (as in car jack) in Swedish, comes from the trio’s shared and professed love for Neurosis, Sleep, Hawkwind and Spacemen 3 and in enacting an intentionally psychedelic experience they’ve made it a point to create doom that largely centers around a three chord progression with a fair amount of progression. Don’t get too excited about those 70’s and 80’s psychedelic nods because the major focus of their sound defines their style with rhythms clearly in the realm of modern stoner doom music. They lurch, they buzz, and they plod heavily as most modern sludge/doom hybrids do. If you’ve heard groups like Mammoth Storm, Slomatics, and Shroud Eater then this ‘drowned’ and mystic form of riff and roar will be immediately comfortable. Where and how do they differentiate? With some admittedly small nods taken from Yob in terms of structure and expression along with a dose of Windhand‘s inner flower child. Oh, and big groovy riffs.
The synchronized lurch of Domkraft appears as sonar flittering amongst heavy waves and swirling currents guided by the wills of vocalist/bassist Martin Wegeland and six-tentacled guitars of Martin Widholm who each take turns creating rhythmic and melodic interest within longform doom metal structures. Consider it an application of post-‘Sovereign’ Neurosis commitment to building spacious impassioned grooves through the polished stoner/doom sensibilities of bands like Conan and Monolord. So far I could more or less be describing the band’s previous album ‘The End of Electricity’ (2016) and to be frank the differences come in terms of flow and a slight bump in production fidelity. They’ve found a sound and approach that works quite well and ‘Flood’ is less a re-do and more of a perfection of their craft within that sound. It is immensely satisfying even just in terms of balanced and dynamic production sound meeting an equally sharp mix. They’ve left so little dirt on the floor, so to speak, that the grit and gruffness of Wegeland‘s delivery along with the warbling psychedelic leads from Widholm provide an organic, palpable ‘edge’ enough.
It took a few tries until I’d let ‘Flood’ in and this comes from a superficial impressions guiding my way. The record appears accessible and polished at first, the sort of sound that I’m not immediately drawn to when coupled with simpler rhythms. From toe to ankle and up the knees it’d be about two full listens until I was happily drowning in Domkraft‘s wetness. The intensity of Wegeland‘s vocals beneath the suffocating burst of ‘Flood’ became a great initial focus before I’d realized there was more attention put into compositional flow in terms of the guitar/bass interplay and use of repetition to create the aforementioned hypnotic verve that drives the experience. The listening experience was thoughtful but ‘easy’ in terms of familiar riffs and reused transitions (see: “Sandwalker”) and this places ‘Flood’ in a tributary between average and exceptional. The feeling of the listen is impressive but the composition amounts to one big oceanic sway sans turbulence. The same could be said of many greats in the same wheelhouse a la Yob and Sleep so it isn’t such an inherent flaw if considering sub-genre appropriate ethos. At a juncture between satiating flow, inspired psychedelia, and a ‘genre’ release I can give Domkraft‘s second full-length a moderately high recommendation for those inclined to combinations of sludge metal and stoner doom metal. For preview I’d suggest “The Watchers” for its guitar work and groove, “Octopus” for a general grasp of the band’s style, and “Landslide” for those looking to be flattened.
Bounteous and unstinted fertilizations. 3.75/5.0
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