Konvent – Puritan Masochism (Album Review)

Fresh off a successful four-song demo, Konvent are set to release Puritan Masochism, their debut album, on Friday, January 24th through Napalm Records.

Based in Denmark, the band deals with colossal Death/Doom Metal, taking the slow, determined path to absolute pain and destruction. Set to make an impression from the start with their first LP, the crackling title-track opens the album. Helping spark even more interest a music video was subsequently released in October comprised of footage from the band’s appearance at the Roskilde Festival this past June. That said, the stage presence of the band mirrors their sound quite well: Vocalist Rikke Emilie List and Drummer Julie Simonsen hold down the slower, sludgier half of the band, while Bassist Heidi Withington Brink and Guitarist Sara Helena Nørregaard move about and work with a more frenzied pace.

The next cut, “The Eye,” continues a consistent tone. Alternating between a funereal crawl and a brisk mid-tempo Death Metal groove, it comes to an abrupt end rather than forming a proper lead-in for “Trust.” An absolute slab of gore-ridden doom, “Trust” wastes no time and spares no quarter as it decimates everything in its way. In fact, its five minutes easily feel longer, but in only in the best possible ways.

Later on “Waste” features a guest appearance by fellow lady Tue Krebs Roikjer, and perhaps not by coincidence, the track is noticeably more upbeat. Similarly, “World of Gone” also offers a slight beacon of hope, as its opening guitar tone can be considered warm in comparison to its bleak surroundings. The effect is almost fleeting, as every other aspect of the track returns the focus to ruin and decay. This is while “Bridge” returns the tone to dull, painful normalcy.

Before closing the two-part offering “Ropes,” predecessor “Idle Hands” continues the relative thaw put forth by “World of Gone”; where the guitar warms to a progression worthy of some proper ’80’s recordings, worthy of standing alongside the earliest forays into Viking Metal. However, once the two chapters of “Ropes” begin, subtle nods to the “Peaceville Three” of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Anathema can also be distilled here, as well as some of the more recent work by Wolfheart. The vocals move a little ‘off-camera’ as the first tranche closes and the second begins, and the blood-chilling pace quickens a bit as dueling and layered voices drag the vocals back to the forefront. Despite the increased tempo, the overall vibe remains one of sorrow and desperation. In the end, the final minutes quietly simulate a broken record, and the track fades off into the ether almost as an aural reminder to the fickle and trite meanings of existence.

Most often, the vocals from this Danish outfit lift liberally from legendary neighbor Martin van Drunen, raking the influence over the fuzzy coals of the Stoner, Doom, and nearly Sludge. That in mind, after a first spin, there seems to be a lot of promise here. The depth and diversity of the material is a bit limited, but on the basis of raw talent and material, there is a lot to work with, and Konvent can be plotted on a relatively upward trajectory, as much as their chosen Doom genre allows. None of the four tracks from their 2017 demo reappear here, which bodes well for the band keeping itself fresh and challenged. Because of this, Cryptic Rock gives Puritan Masochism 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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