Sons Of A Wanted Man is an act from Beringen, which is a city in Limburg, Belgium, formerly known from its coalmine sites. The band started five years and something ago, when some experienced musicians from different anti-commercial acts joined forces to bring something that makes Belgium great again: Post / Sludge Heaviness with (hairy) balls! They recorded and released some demonstrational stuff throughout the years, and did gain an impressive (local) live status, but now things will truly start, caused by Kenoma.
That’s actually the title of the band’s debut full length studio album. It was recorded in 2018 / 2019 at the Jupiter Studio, and produced by the band members themselves. The result eventually got mastered by Cult Of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg, who did master stuff for acts like Tribulation, Morbus Chron, The Ocean, Det Eviga Leendet or Kruger too, by the way. Besides, the band was able to sign to one of France’s most devoted and dedicated labels, Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions, which proves that there is a future to come, a future of grandeur, recognition, maybe celebrity…
Kenoma got released on both compact disc (with poster) and vinyl (2-LP, gatefold) (besides the digital version, evidently) and lasts for about forty-seven minutes. And compared to the past, well, the result sounds even heavier and bleaker than ever before. ‘kenoma’ actually means ‘void’ or ‘emptiness’ in Greek, and the atmosphere of this album surely darkens and somehow contaminates.
It is a remarkable thing, this album, for it plays with the listener’s brain. Take the opening song, for example, which is also the title track. Ready for take-off? Well, it blasts immediately, as from the very start, bringing an overpowering whirlwind of blackened energy, like some Swedish Black Metal act from the Nineties. Fast riffs, venomous screams and rumbling riffs attack and strike back all over again. Soon, however, it transforms into a rather sludgy entity, before entering the mighty realms of Post-Sludge majesty. And that’s just a modest fragment, for this composition (and okay, I admit that it is a lengthy one, with its duration of eleven minutes) permanently changes. The tempo accelerates, then again everything drops down. The structural basics vary, quite naturally, in between stages of Black Metal, Post-Hardcore and Sludge. Colossal and overwhelming fragments gets interspersed with calmer ones. And so it goes on, and on, and on. Seriously, it has nothing to do with any chauvinism at all, but what I do experience right here is impressive, highly impressive.
Was that title track a coincidence then? Well, not at all, for Kenoma continues that path, and goes further, deeper, and higher. Serpentine, for example, the next track, could be classified as Atmospheric Black Metal, in case you like to put everything in separated boxes. But here too, elements from Post Metal and Ultra-Doom-Sludge (absolutely, it does exist as from now on!) go peacefully hand in hand.
Canine Devotion too is a remarkable piece, probably the most ‘emotive’ one on the album. It comes with guest vocals of Slow Crush’s Isa Holliday and offers a floating Post Rock thing with riffs and drum patterns that would do just fine within the Blackgaze genre (besides that frenzy drum assault as from about one third of the album). Briefly, it also includes acoustics, several changes in tempo and structure, and even hints of DSBM-oriented melancholia.
You will find more well-thought variation on different subjects too. There is that subtle addition of acoustic fragments once in a while, like in aforementioned Canine Devotion, or the outro Pleroma, which is the sole piece that clocks less than six minutes (three, actually). There is a huge diversification in the tempo, but the whole of the time the overpowering energy remains, whether you’re listening to a faster or a slower excerpt. Besides, the vocals are, as said, mainly blackened, but more than once, a deep, grunting growl fills your head with anger and frustration. Then you have the drum patterns, often fiery and thundering, but once in a while taking over the main role. Or what about the interaction in between tremolo riff-based passages at the one hand, and monolithic full-force-ahead assaults at the other? Or… No, I think you do understand what I was trying to state. Indeed, everything continuously evolves and shifts. But above all, seen the huge, massive structural song writing, the whole album sounds like one colossal and cohesive sonic rock.
The production is quite rough-edged, with the guitars especially dwelling within spheres reminiscent of the Nordic Black Metal areas. No, you don’t hear me complaining! The mix is well-balanced yet ultimately raw, which strengthens the ‘Postcore’ attitude of Sons Of A Wanted Man’s approach. Somehow it is playful, frolic (without joy or happiness) to notice the roughness of the sound with the renewing, refreshing song writing, performance and sound. But therefor the result is like a classic to be. Kenoma is beyond expectations for a debut, and recommended for a public that appreciates Post-oriented elegance, blackened grimness and sludgy power.