By: David Jupp
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 09/06/2017
Label: Ripple Music
Whilst being undoubtedly heavy what makes this sophomore effort stand out is the variation employed in the bludgeon. By embracing less traditional doom landscapes ‘The Sunken Djinn’ has allowed Vokonis room to demonstrate the full raft of their audio-weaponry, and in doing so propelled them to the forefront of the heavy underground.
“The Sunken Djinn” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). The Sunken Djinn
2). Calling From The Core
3). The Coldest Night
4). Blood Vortex
5). Architect Of Despair
Ripple Music is a label in the midst of a purple patch. With both Steak and Mothership releasing standout records in recent months, so it begs the question, can Vokonis make it three in a row? As some biblical dude definitely once said: ‘asketh of the sludge gods and you shall receive.’ Well ask I did, and the reply that poured forth was 40 minutes of crafted, brutal and more importantly, interesting sludge-metal.
It has only been one solitary year since Swedish trio Vokonis dropped their debut long-player ‘Olde One Ascending.’ Hewn from the same doomy bedrock as genre titans Sleep, and with Iommi’s influence looming large, the record is about as strong a rebrand as is possible. Having previously released a well-received EP ‘Temple’ under the moniker Creedsmen Arise, the band became embroiled in a legal dispute over the name. Well what better way to stick it to the lesser ‘Creedsmen’ than with six psych-tinged bangers?
Album two ‘The Sunken Djinn’ ignites with its title track. Wasting no time, Vokonis drop the hammer in minute one. A half-time beast of a riff marshals in Simon’s trademark yell and Vokonis are back, the beast has risen. At minute four however, things get a little proggy. The first act gives way to a short meditative interlude, not to fear though the doom soon returns and Simon’s excellent lead-work takes centre-stage. The song closes out in epic fashion with a rousing call: ‘carry on into the sun…’ By the end of only the first cut it becomes clear that Vokonis have refocused their sound. Moving away from Sleep’s more traditional church of doom the band have steered their ship into sludgier, more progressive waters.
Next up is ‘Calling From The Core.’ Along with five of the seven songs on the record, it comes in at over six minutes long. Vokonis make the most of every second of the extended track-length. A slow build of restrained guitars and scattered toms explode into a crushing driven chorus. Similarly to the title track the rage is then whittled down to another contemplative build with hints of Toronto sludge-stalwarts, Pyres. Having caught its breath momentarily the song then hurtles to a close on a platform of vocal harmony and articulate lead-work.
Jonte’s outrageous bass tone initiates the trudging dirge of track three, ‘The Coldest Night.’ The song proceeds to haul itself through 5 minutes of sumptuous down-tempo sludge before delivering the heaviest moment of the record. Up until now the production has been typical of Ripple Music’s recent output, thick, warm and clear. But as the outro veers into earshot the guitar tone should just plain be illegal. The weight on show here would rival even Black Breath’s work and as Simon’s descending riffs collapse into a forceful chug, Jonte’s bass provides a sopping sub-hertz bookend.
‘Blood Vortex’ follows and serves as a quick-paced more traditional precursor to the sprawling masterpiece to come. ‘Architects of Despair’ takes in a chugging battle cry, emotive guitars leads and best of all some kind of cymbal/lead-pipe outro. Again more contemporary influences swim beneath the surface with evocations of “Red” era Baroness and early Galvano.
‘Rapturous’ employs a similar template and again Emil’s monstrous tom-work propels the song to juggernaut status. Like a dying beast wheezing its final breath after the battle, “Maelstrom”’s three minutes of white noise and distant drums are an apt curtain call to an outstanding second record
The craft that afforded Vokonis such acclaim on their debut has been refined and renewed. Whilst being undoubtedly heavy what makes this sophomore effort stand out is the variation employed in the bludgeon. By embracing less traditional doom landscapes ‘The Sunken Djinn’ has allowed Vokonis room to demonstrate the full raft of their audio-weaponry, and in doing so propelled them to the forefront of the heavy underground.
“The Sunken Djinn” is available preorder/buy here