Every once in a blue moon there’s a piece of music--&, even more rarely, an album--that truly transcends the bounds of genre convention. We’re talkin’ a genuinely innovative work that throws our system of categorization into a well-deserved state of catastrophe. The latest effort from Swedish doom-mongers Domkraft is not such an album, but thank heavens for that. Us devotees of the riff, frankly, don’t need another altar at which to worship. While obviously not as foundational to the genre status quo as, say, their influences of Monolord or YOB-ian magnitude, Domkraft’s sound is a monolithic distillation of modern doom.
Flood is generally defined by thick hypnotic riffs, howl-into-the-void vocals, & a willingness to meander into the astral fuzz-regions. Predictably, the prominence of the riffage is a key component, with the aforementioned Monolord being a close comparison in terms of sheer heft & undulation. This tone is suitably massive, yet ebbs with regularity, leaving pockets of breathing room before folding back in with a restrained density. There’s no violence in this fuzzy embrace. It's not crushing, nor smothering. This particular flood is a slow ordeal, and the most memorable tracks are often an exercise in intelligent reiteration of the central riff.
The danger in constructing a fortress on repetition is, of course, dependence on the audience’s persistence. Here, this is seldom an issue. Despite lengthy passages, it never feels like Domkraft are dragging their feet--or worse, beating a riff to death. Sometimes it feels as though everything has been done in the world of low ‘n’ slow axemanship, but Flood is far from stagnation. Perhaps it's more a credit to the strength of the songwriting, but on album highlights such as “Landslide” & the title track, these riffs are as fresh as the morning dew. Martin Wegeland’s ethereal voice, while an used trope at this stage in the game, has an instantaneously likeable quality. Not quite strained, not quite nonchalant. Given its deliberate depth in the mix, a lack of power is inevitable in the delivery, & towards the latter tracks the vocals are the only element that feels in need of variety. That said, the echo effect, while far from subtle, is a smart way to lean into the more spacey passages.
Domkraft are masters of development--the gradual shift in tempo across “Sandwalker” from a sludgy crawl to a (relative) franticism being a prime example. A nice break in the expected formula arrives mid-album in the form of “They Appear To Be Alive,” their most overtly space-rock oriented piece to date. Even, however, taking such psychedelic tangents into consideration, Flood is a hefty slab of doom, through & through.
As a statement of pure dedication to their genre wheelhouse, Domkraft have done themselves proud. In sum, this isn’t an introduction to doom. As an example of the genre’s staying power, however, Flood is one of the finest examples of its ilk I have encountered this year.
Flood was released October 19, 2018 from Blues Funeral Recordings.
Domkraft can be found at Bandcamp.
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry