As we follow the deep sea blues of Stockholm-based psychedelic doom/sludge trio Domkraft in transition from five years of finely honed apocalyptic sermon towards post-apocalyptic, middle-of-the-woods emotional sovereignty the unmistakable flits and tracers of hope begin to sink in — We’re nowhere near off the pipe but, some bounty of oxygen returns to the brain once more. No matter how much turmoil and misery I could induct under their influence, attempting to immerse it within my thoughts as a sort of kaleidoscopic mood lighting, the feeling of hope was yet the outcome. Do not mistake hopefulness for invigoration or purpose but, rather a plan of action that is so feasible, such a good idea, that it eventually seems to will itself into being. With ‘Seeds‘ we are undoubtedly getting the expected dose of hyper-textural sound design and organic, nigh underthought songwriting common to Scandinavia’s current modern doom and sludge headspace yet without the forced spectrum of post-metal cinematics. When given time to sink into meaning Domkraft hit the senses with the must of ozone, refreshing and earthen yet undoubtedly relics fallen and decaying beyond their high place.
Although these fellowes bonded over a fair deal of minimalism, experimental psychedelia, atmospheric sludge and extreme modes of stoner music in their nascent era of formation they couldn’t help but write at least a large chunk of each piece under this name as a structured, memorable ‘heavy rock’ moment. I say this not as a judgement but a huge positive that’d probably stemmed from a love for everything from desert rock and early Monster Magnet to ‘Dopesmoker’ and beyond. Today we have enough context to see the character and the stylistic hand applied within each of their works but I’ll have to admit I understand their second album (‘Flood‘, 2018) better today after fully absorbing ‘Seeds’ than I did when I’d reviewed it back in the day; That is to say that they were going somewhere less obviate and a bit more extreme, leaving behind some of the amazing stoner rock/metal hooks of their first EP (‘Domkraft‘, 2015) and debut album (‘The End of Electricity‘, 2016) towards a more emotionally driven sound that still invokes the heaviest psychedelic effects-drenched stoner doom but also holds some water when it comes to sludge-rock pieces. It takes a bit of a leap of faith to get from 2018 ’til today in any case and I do expect an artist with an intimately conveyed style to be worse for wear or, scrambling for alternatives as they present themselves in 2021. This is where I meet ‘Seeds’ eye-to-eye having done enough wallowing in the beauteous “I told you so.” of dystopian first-world society and seeming apocalyptic cataclysms lined up as strata or age spots. What next?
My notes on tone, atmosphere and feeling all pointed to inhospitable “deserts” of the world, places of homogeny where only extremophiles might live such as the bottom of a too-deep ocean trench or a particularly flat icebound tundra. For the sake of ‘Seeds’ and its practical creation we can instead simply set ourselves in a forest somewhere near Gothenburg in a live space known as Welfare Sounds Studio, assumedly recording live to some degree or at least tracking in an open space for their electricity to sprawl through with a minimum of hindrance beyond sweaty folks and gear. This becomes much easier to envision as opener and title track “Seeds” buzzes in with an inspired, soul-crushing psychedelic doom metal introduction with a lead progression invoking some kind of modernized verse from Saint Vitus‘ “Dying Inside” in my mind, setting us right on the tip of doom’s misery before launching into what I’d consider the set standard mode for this album, shouting and riffing for sure but, always conveying something. Just as we hit the ~3:05 minute mark the leads return to finish their phrase, clarifying the major force of the song and really slinging the solo as hard as humanly possible. At this point we can already claim Domkraft have worked on expression, framing their emotional connection to this opener with spiraling, thousand-eyed leads, tribal psychedelic doom and a sludgy desperation at the back of their throats. Point being, I see what ‘Floods’ was aiming for and what ‘Seeds’ lands as the same sort of vision conveyed from two perspectives, this third Domkraft album intentionally shifts not only the world of their setting but conveys a changed mind in the process of shaking off delirium and isolation. How much of that is intentionally shaped or, just projection on my part, is arguable but I do believe the opening track makes for a remarkably natural statement of purpose.
In fact ‘Seeds’ intends to make a constructive statement via its vision of the post-apocalypse, suggesting that the voice of the album is “emerging from the ruins to start anew, building something different and better beyond the cataclysm” and of course cannot help but read as dead serious for what many folks might assume is a casual stoner metal record. We’ve established that the album arrives with an intense mood and that it sounds as if it were recorded live in studio though I’m not sure I can convey this sense that I am present for the recordings as I listen. It is the sort of record you might think you’ve heard a doorbell, a shout or a voice behind as the living process bleeds into the recordings themselves, this gives a present and organic shape to an artform that is typically fuzz-fucked and obliterative. Well, ‘Seeds’ is still quite a loud and heavy record thanks to a mix from Karl Lidén, who’d done similarly warm bulldozers for Lowrider and Greenleaf in recent years. Imposing but ‘real’ or, organically monstrous is the most concise note I’d get out of the experience. As I repeatedly returned to the hypnotic duo of “Into Orbit” and “Dawn of Man” I couldn’t help but think a band like Hymn (Norway) could’ve benefitted from the bluesy muscle memory of these folks for ‘Breach Us’ last year, conveying a similarly “on the spot” and short recording session yet missing the desert-bound clean vocals that bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland uses to switch up the tone and texture of each song rather than dryly shouting for the entire album. He could’ve pushed for something just slightly more expressive a la Wailin Storms on “Tremors” and struck gold but as is, the Monolord-esque wateriness of “Tremors” marks it as my favorite piece on the tracklist beyond the opener, and the energetic rush of “Audiodome” leading towards the albums jammed-out conclusion.
Don’t let this whole message of “hope” thing get you down, though, Domkraft still embody the core sentience of doom metal and sludge via an all-encompassing sense of existential dread; This timeless melodrama is expertly conveyed here no matter how fractal and balmy their lead guitar freakouts and guitar effects plunges get. ‘Seeds’ carries with it an important message you could engage or not, either way it holds up very well as an affected crossover between psychedelic doom, stoner metal and sludge tonality. I’d found this album so repeatable for the sake of its dire tone which wrenches easily between turmoil, dissociation and intoxication while persisting to rebuild a devastated world. For my own purposes it was high-impact cathartic but not demanding or taxing as a full listen, an experience which I’d give a moderately high recommendation of.
|LABEL(S):||Magnetic Eye Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||April 30th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
|GENRE(S):||Psychedelic Doom Metal,|
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