There are certain words and phrases that evoke powerful images for receivers of art and part of that power comes from the way that it effects people on such a visceral personal level. That is one of the more immeasurably important pieces of any work of artistic expression. Sometimes we reach for these symbols, words, and phrases in order to better acquaint the uninitiated with something that we ourselves are often only just beginning to understand. The need to connect and communicate, to dialogue and unpack, the importance of these signifiers is what brings urgency to the way we pass important personal affections back and forth.
One of the most memorable of these to music with darker overtones comes in the form of the root “kraft” because of the powerful evocation of Kraftwerk, one of the originators of dark pop music, and their legacy. It’s a simple thing to be reminded of one band or artist vis a vis another through these kind of visual cues but there’s ample opportunity for a certain cognitive dissonance when the evoked image doesn’t match with what we’re actually presented. Sometimes, however, that lack of balance can create an opening through which an artist can sneak into space that would have otherwise been held by a preconceived notion.
Domkraft, a blistering, pulverizing bulldozer of a band out of Sweden escaped our direct gaze last year and though their name can conjure up an image of the artful Germans it’s the massive sound of the band who’s name, “dom” being “judgement” and “kraft” being “force” in their native tongue, that translates quite predominantly. That their debut album, The End of Electricity, begins with a trampling, shambling marathon of a heavy riff brings to mind Sleep’s opus, Dopesmoker, and means that “The Rift” serves as a portent of the wreckage to come.
But this band isn’t content to solely explore the territory of three chords laying waste to all before it. The band delve into drone and psychedelia as well while also interlacing nods to the iconic work of artists before them such as Candlemass which is most evident on the slow grind of “Red Lead”. Through the fuzzed out bass and yelling madness of Martin Wegeland we get an update on the vast tradition of the genre that’s hard to argue with. Part of what is at work in this song and on this album is that the band feel as if they’re pushing at the typical boundaries of the style.
One of the more difficult tricks to pull off in sludge or doom metal is to create an active sense of tension mixed with exhilaration. This is largely because you’re trying to create this sense without revving the tempo beyond a certain point. Domkraft achieve this feat, though, quite handily on “All Come Hither” through the use of phrasing, a powerful production, and an ability to pace the song just ever so slightly in the faster range creating an urgency or impatience.
Really, what The End of Electricity is, is an encouraging look at where the field of doom can go by expanding its natural tendencies toward drone, touching on psychedelia, all while still providing an extended master class on how effective simple riffs can be. The kinds of words and phrases used to describe music as monstrously towering as this can only guide one so far. The sonic footprint left by Domkraft here is a crater and that’s as powerful a symbol as any you’ll find.