March 9, 2016 Votum – :Ktonik: (Album Review)
The Progressive band Votum from Warsaw, Poland came together back in 2002. Releasing their demo that same year, entitled Bow To The Sound, their sound, initially, clearly was coming from traditional Metal roots. However, they soon proved to become the leaders of the new Wave of Polish Progressive Metal. This was validated with the 2008 album Time Must Have A Stop, followed by 2009’s Metafiction and 2013’s Harvest Moon. Garnering rave reviews with each album, those who have been lucky enough to discover Votum have been hooked into wondering what the band would conjure up next. Now with a new label, Inner Wound Recordings, Votum offer their fourth album, :Ktonik:, as of February 26th in North America. As in their previous work, Votum have given it their all to deliver a high-class Prog-Rock album.
The sequence of names involved with the recording and production of :Ktonik: alone promise a dark, oppressive, and in-depth album with atmospheric depth. It was recorded in several studios in Poland, the album was mixed by David Castillo (Katatonia, Bloodbath, Opeth) at Ghost Ward Studio and mastered by Tony Lindgren (Paradise Lost, Kreator) at Fascination Street Studios. Having performed in the past with bands such as Opeth, Anathema, and Riverside, Votum no doubt were inspired by the bunch. That is why it is safe to say listeners already may have some idea where the journey goes musically on :Ktonik: before even listening. Although, being their own unique band, Votum offers plenty of surprises.
From the first track, “Satellite,” the album conveys a feeling of a Polish Winter night, but with a warm powerful sound. On the other hand, “Greed” comes on with an unbelievable guitar tone that appears like a roller steamer. Thereafter, tracks on :Ktonik: are continuously dominated by billowing keyboard-carpets, pumping guitars of the duo Adam Kaczmarek and Piotr Lniany, along with intense, desperate vocals of Bart Sobieraj. Also, in “Spiral,” with the German spoken words, ruthless basslines and distorted vocals carry a multiplicity of emotions.
As :Ktonik: moves along, it invites listeners to dream and transports them to another world with an alternating array of feelings. From fragile elegies, soaked in light electronic sounds, from affecting to aggressive eruptions, one can be overwhelmed in a positive way by songs like “Blackened Tree” or the dodgy, but hellish grooving of “Simulacra.” Other tracks like the Pink Floyd influenced “Prometheus,” with its rhythmic finesse, or “Horizontal” along with “Vertical,” show that the songwriting and atmosphere of Votum’s compositions stays in the focus. This is instead of proving egocentric musical skills and technique, like many other bands are guilty of getting caught up in. Then, the nine track musical dream ends with “Last Word” which starts with a simple theme that rises to an unbelievable intense sound collage and adventure before ebbing away back to the beginning.
Contrary to former outputs, it seems that Votum added more shovels of darkness and heaviness to :Ktonik:, which is very becoming to the band and moves it more into the corner of acts such as Anathema or Opeth than being a classic Prog-Rock act. With :Ktonik:, Votum haul up themselves close to the stage of above mentioned bands. Fans who enjoy escaping to other worlds with bands like the aforementioned Anathema or Porcupine Tree have to check out this amazing creation by Votum. Simply put, :Ktonik: has to be seen as a total work of art and is one of the biggest surprises of 2016 thus far. CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.