Kroh - AltarsWith acts like King Goat, Darkher and Khemmis snatching Album of the Month, I’d say this has been a good year for doom metal. Good thing, then, that this is also the year I found out how great this genre is, having mostly ignored it under the false assumption that all of it was paced like a 9-hour funeral. One of the albums that convinced me of this never made it to the AMG offices, but it’s a hell of a spin no doom fanatic should miss. I speak, of course, of Kroh‘s Altars.

Two things immediately jump out after the atmospheric intro ends and the album properly begins. “Mother Serpent” brings the hammer down with a bass that sounds immense, claustrophobic and impossibly dense. In a refreshing change of pace from the norm, the bass and guitar actually exchange duties, the former supplying the crushing heaviness and the latter delivering on creeping warble and reverb. It’s easy to overuse this kind of super-heavy distortion but Kroh got their dosages perfect and know how to impact your eardrums at the right times. The other defining feature is the vocals, courtesy of Oliwia Sobieszek. Her range of hushed whispers, ominous chanting and desperate cries are among the trump cards on Altars. She doesn’t have an immense vocal range, but this matters much less than her great expressive ability,which sets the ominous tone as much as the music.

The combination of Oliwia’s voice and the black hole bass is the defining sound of Kroh, with the contrasting textures creating an unease, an unsettling feeling that permeates the proceedings in the best way. It’s reminiscent of Madder Mortem in the method of combining heavy music and expressive female vocals to bring this feeling of creeping dread. The rest of the instrumentation supports these main elements perfectly. The drums are minimal and precise when the band gets heavy, but add a tribal undercurrent when the band is gearing up during the quieter sections. “Feed the Brain” is a good example of this interplay, constructing a creeping darkness in the verses before releasing a Candlemassian harmony that stomps through the chorus with epic grandeur.

Kroh 2016

The songwriting is fairly simplistic, especially considering the expansiveness of doom metal. While many bands in the genre like to surpass 8 minutes per song as a matter of courtesy, Altars never goes far beyond 5, and the structure of the tracks is waveringly straightforward. This has its up and downsides. While the songs never overstay their welcome and it makes the album more inviting to sit down with, it could have benefited from a little more depth, which would give the band the chance to really drag the listener down to the murky depths. But don’t let this cut and dry approach discourage you. Kroh’s crushing doom should not be missed.

Tracks to check out: “Feed the Brain,” “Break the Bread” and “Precious Bones”

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  • Eli Valcik

    I was wondering when you’d get around to reviewing this.

  • The Unicorn

    Yummy, the blonde gal on the left looks spicy!

    • zorro

      Glad you like her tho it’s possibly less relevant than how they sound.

      • The Unicorn

        Indeed. And, they sound awesome, so two hooves up!

        First comment ever, to pick on a pink Unicorn. You mean penguins are all the same. ;)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Look at her picture on the Metal Archives! Even spicier…
      Hey, wait, we are not sexist pigs, we are here to talk about the Metal! ;)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    No embedded track?

    • euthanatos

      seriously, what the hell, do I have to go on youtube and search this shit? Come on, GT.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        As a lazy-ass reader I demand a embedded track!

        • The Unicorn


          • The Nerd.

            Occupy AMG!!!! #NotmyMetalReviewWebsite

          • You pampered little metal weasels! You make me sick!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            In a bad way?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Little Metal Weasels sounds like the Metal version of Alvin and The Chipmunks. If it ever happens it’s most likely to be Japanese.

          • The Nerd.

            Little Metal Weasel is now my Disqus description.

  • madhare

    Nice find! Thank you!

  • Innit Bartender

    All the name-dropping rings the right bells!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Awesome start to the album. I had to double-check that I wasn’t streaming the Tallis Scholars by mistake.

    Nice find. Keep ’em comin’!

  • I.B. Hurtin

    Finds like this make the AMG subscription price worth every penny! Oh…never mind. But seriously, I really like this!

  • sweetooth0

    Kroh’s good, they actually started out with a different vocalist. These guys are tied in with Fukpig (and by extension Anaal Nathrakh) and you can get their stuff on the Devizes Records page.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Hell, this is so awesome it shouldn’t be on “Things You May Have Missed” it should be on “Things You Should Not Miss”

  • It’s fun but I’m not convinced about that guitar tone. The rest of the album seems to nail it though

    Also, deliberately off-key harmonies in the verses, or just me?

  • lennymccall

    This review just reminded me a new Alunah comes out in early 17! Stoked!
    But I’ll check this out asap.

  • Oberon

    So this has been bugging me, but does anyone else think Oliwia sounds like Stefani?

    • DrChocolate

      Now that you say it, yes. Yes she does. Doom-y No Doubt. It’s like a peak into a darker timeline where Gwen and Tony grew up listening to Sabbath and Pentagram rather than Madness and The Specials.

      • Oberon

        It was off putting, until the third or fourth spin, when the image of doom guys wearing funeral boas made its appearance