Album Title: Call Down The Sun
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 11 March 2022
When their debut album, ‘Puritan Masochism’ was released in early 2020 by Konvent, it passed me by completely. I was just starting to crank out the reviews again after a prolonged hiatus during 2019, so I was playing catch-up elsewhere and couldn’t fit Konvent into my review pile. The Danish quartet received a lot of praise from fans and critics alike in the wake of its release though, and so now that they are back with their sophomore release, ‘Call Down The Sun’, at a time when I am fired up and hungry for music to write about, the compulsion to investigate was strong.
Copenhagen-based Konvent were formed in 2015 and are a rarity these days in that they boast an unchanged line-up since becoming a quartet in 2017 with the addition of drummer Julie Simonsen to the ranks. Slotting in alongside vocalist Rikke Emilie List, guitarist Sara Helena Nørregaard, and bassist Heidi Withington Brink, they set about recording a demo, eventually unleashing the debut full-length around three years later.
Coming to ‘Call Down The Sun’, I was initially surprised by the heaviness of the material. This album is comprised of nine brutal and uncompromising slabs of molten-thick death/doom metal, the kind that want to pulverise the listener into submission for the entirety of the 45-minute run-time. But not only that, within the music, there are other subtle influences that leave their mark within Konvent’s overall sound. I hear hints of black metal malevolence at times, walls of thick, claustrophobic sound that scream post-metal whilst at others, the pace is such that ‘funeral doom’ wouldn’t be a bad descriptor either. It all adds up to create an intriguing listen that, whilst perhaps not my first choice of listening fodder, certainly provides me with something a little different to wrap my ears around.
The first thing to mention has to be the vocals of Rikke Emilie List, because they are insane. For the most part, they are so low, they threaten to go subterranean, rivalling the thick, rumbling bass of Heidi Withington Brink at the same time. But List has other tricks up her sleeve too, such as a savage bestial growl when her mood and the music warrant it.
Next on my agenda has to be the production which is nigh-on perfect for Konvent’s music. There’s a demonstrable organic feel to the album, that helps to bring the instruments and the compositions to life. A more polished sound would almost certainly have robbed the songs of some of their hard-hitting brutality and nastiness. But the mix also allows plenty of strength to the music, as well as plenty of clarity, meaning that none of the musicians get lost, even when we’re being blasted by an intense wall of heavy sound.
On to the music itself and I am suitably impressed here too. By the end of the album, I will admit to feeling like I’ve gone twelve rounds with a heavyweight boxer, but that doesn’t stop me from returning for another spin through, almost masochistically perhaps. There is certainly something about it that calls me back for more, which I like.
The album sets the tone perfectly from the very first note of ‘Into The Distance’, thanks to a dirty guitar note alongside a tolling bell. It’s classic doom metal fare, as is the ensuing riff that churns with a stubbornness, seeking to devour everything in its deliberate path. The rhythm section lays down an enormously solid foundation, adding an almost hypnotic quality in the process. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Konvent only plunder territory littered with stereotypes, because you’d be way off the mark. There is a familiar feel to some aspects of the material here, but then in come the vocals to blow everything wide apart, not to mention the clever way in which the pace gently quickens towards the end of the opener to raise the intensity levels that little bit more.
I really enjoy the groovy quality exhibited within tracks like ‘Sand Is King’, whilst a special mention has to go to ‘Grains’, Konvent’s first song written in their native Danish. The aforementioned black metal aspect of the band’s sound comes through strongly within this song, thanks to faster-picked riffing in the main. I also really enjoy the way that the song features a more pronounced ebb and flow within it, from slightly quieter passages, to shifts in tempo. If one were to describe any of the music on ‘Call Down The Sun’ as ‘progressive’, it would be this track, as it is easily one of the most varied and nuanced on the album. As such, it’s also a personal favourite.
Speaking of favourites, I also want to mention the closing song, ‘Harena’. It has a different feel to it, thanks to a more immediate melodic edge. The riffs are still muscular, the vocals still intense, and the rhythms still powerful, but there’s a slightly more atmospheric, cinematic feel. And the inclusion of a violin and cello guest appearance from Felix Havstad adds a layer of added sorrow. For my personal tastes, this is the stand-out track on ‘Call Down The Sun’ and I’d love the band to explore this approach more on coming albums, whilst not abandoning their core sound in the process.
As it is, it’s a great way to end an album that has impressed me a lot more than I thought it might at the outset. It’s a dark, suffocating affair, but I mean that in the best way as a compliment. This album is a nice mix of bludgeoning heaviness and malevolent intent, all wrapped up in some intelligent songwriting and strong performances for all four corners of the band. It won’t necessarily be for everyone, but if you want some quality blackened death doom in your life, then this ‘Call Down The Sun’ by Konvent would be a very good place to start.
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
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