Review by Adam Farr
Swedish Doom bringers Vokonis unleash their unholy savagery on the listener with ‘Olde One Ascending’. The title and cover art seem to be an homage to the works of H.P Lovecraft, fitting for the Lovecraftian terror they sonically blast you with on this album. Paradoxically, this is an energetic and uplifting album; they take you through six long songs with moments of all-out doom, psychedelic solos, bluesy guitars, and fat riffs.
Their thunderous sound is well recorded and well produced on this album. It’s fuzzy but not muddy; clean but not piercing. Simon Ohlsson’s vocals are droning alien shouts, with a degree of reverence rather than hate or anger, his riffs are sleepy, heavy, Sabbath–y rolling thunder. Emil Larsson’s drums are pummelling, deafening and groovy and mix in nicely with Jonte Johansson’s bluesy basslines. After 50 minutes, the album closes and you feel better than you did before you heard it.
The album opens with Olde One, which sets the pace for the album with its monstrous riffs and power. If you were in a bad mood before, this song will turn that mood into a desire to get up and bang your head or shout along with Ohlsson. It is followed by The Serpent’s Alive: laden with blasphemous harmonies and a storm of furious riffage. The atmosphere they have created is now thick and sludgy with weed haze. Their heaviness is piling on you making it hard to breathe, we take a deep breath and continue this sonic journey with Acid Pilgrim. This song stands out to me with its timing changes and extra chunky guitar riffs. It starts off slow and slides into a fast-paced psychedelic guitar solo section before bringing it back down to the sludging pace it was and ends on a terrific, guttural wail. Acid Pilgrim is my personal favourite of the album.
Now it’s time to flip the record over, wade through the dense green fog Vokonis has created, and drop the needle onto the first song on side B: Shroomblade. This track delivers classic riffs reminiscent of Tony Iommi. Well, all the guitar riffs are somewhat Iommic, but especially the riffs on Shroomblade. This one also gets psychedelic and bluesy in the solo section, with overlapping guitar solos followed by a quieter, stripped back minute of eerie soundscapes. This song is an adventure through the psyche. Following that adventure is the 9-minute long King Vokonis Plague – which is an energetic, bluesy doom piece. It has some nice drum fills and guitar leads and really solidifies this album.
The album ends on Hazmat the Ashen Rider. It has some incredibly heavy parts and really summarises the album well. Catchy riffs, Viking shouts, guitar solos; it sums up everything you just heard. This band is definitely talented, not only at their playing but the songwriting, the consistency, and the atmosphere they create really show that this power trio really knows what they’re doing.
The album is exceptionally catchy when compared to other bands in the sludge/stoner metal scene. It has a rockier feel and bounces along with simple but effective riffs that, like H.P Lovecraft’s stories, have an element of fun mixed in with the doom. The vocals can get monotonous at times but I find them a lot better to listen to than many of their contemporaries. Vokonis sound like they’d be at home in Southern USA, shredding it up with Weedeater or Bongzilla. Their sound perfectly captures the stoner metal drawl of the south; riff after riff, a symphony of fuzz, lighters flicking, bong ripping, feedback, and coughing. It’s not the sound one usually associates with Swedes, but man, do they do it well.
‘Olde One Ascending’ is out now. Grab yours HERE!