In the past few weeks I’ve been getting more and more into the awesome dirgey sound of dark doom metal. And we’ve found a band that epitomises everything that’s great about this filthily beautiful genre in Birmingham doom-mongers Kroh.
The five-piece of vocalist Oliwia Sobieszek, guitarists Paul Kenney and Paul Harrington, bassist Darren Donovan and Rychard Stanton, exude the heavy, atmospheric sludginess of doom so expertly that it makes my chest hurt listening to it.
We spoke to Paul to find out more, and he summarised the Kroh sound as: “Ethereal vocals over dirty heavy riffs. Floaty atmospheric vocals with a back drop of evil heaviness.”
How could you possibly read that description, and not immediately want to listen to it?
The key element of Kroh’s sound is Oliwia’s huge vocals floating deliciously over the top of the absolute metal carnage kicking off behind her, with booming, almost synth-sounding, doomy guitars pounding away in dark, atmospheric fashion.
Nowhere is this juxtaposition more beautifully conceived than the huge Living Water, from last year’s debut album Altars. The track kicks off with doomy guitars that explode into a huge atmospheric blast of sound, with high-pitched guitars and feint vocals in the background before a big powerful opening verse. That power continues through a huge chorus with Oliwia’s vocals blasting over the top of a dirgey instrumental backdrop. But perhaps my favourite point in the track is the haunting moment when the instruments drop out and Oliwia repeatedly cries “Holy” before launching into a final blast of dirgey brilliance – it makes the hairs on my arms stand up it’s so good.
Kroh have been together in their current lineup since 2015, when Paul met Oliwia and, in his words: “It opened up a new world of music we could explore. We released a few things before Oliwia joined, but it was different. With this line up we have been able to create the music that’s been in my head for years, but I couldn’t create without meeting these people at this time. It all clicked into place.
“The themes are varied and hidden, we invite people to try to decipher our lyrics and themes, but also let the music take you to a different place. What influences us to write music is to clear our heads, without music we wouldn’t be happy, even though the music sometimes sounds sad. It’s cathartic, we need to do this.”
The result of things clicking into place was Altars, but they also have new music coming very soon in the form of a new EP. We asked Paul what we should be expecting, and he revealed: “Five very different tracks, it’s in the same area as our last album Altars, but darker. We have progressed our writing since the last album.”
Given Kroh are the first doom band we’ve spoken to, we asked Paul to assess the current state of doom in the UK: “The doom scene right now is quite big, it’s been growing for a while,” he said. “There’s some excellent bands around at the moment and all very different from each other, but clearly doom. There’s even doom festivals going on like desert fest that we would love to get on, hopefully in the future.”
So if you like what you hear, then there’s plenty out there for you. And, if you’re yet to listen to Kroh or indeed doom generally then what are you waiting for?
Altars is available on Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual places. Kroh’s new EP Pyres is out on 13 October, and they’ll be holding a release party / gig at Asylum 2 in Birmingham on 20 October, as well as playing an all-day festival at Factory Manchester next Saturday (16 September).