Full disclosure, I’ve become quite picky when it comes to heavy metal and all its sub-genres within the last six months. There’s only so much face painting/battle vest wearing metal and bong ripping stoner rock I can tolerate before it becomes cartoonish nonsense.
Regarding Vokonis, I heard a few things by them previously but never of any length to give the band what I’d call a proper listen. Until now that is. And I’m glad I did.
I won’t beat around the bush here. I like Vokonis’ new record, Olde One Ascending. Ten seconds into the first song and I hear everything I need to know to tell that this is probably going to be one of the better sludgy records I’ve heard this year.
It’s an experience in fuzz, volume, and heaviness that gels seamlessly. Olde One Ascending is unabashedly about the riff and how that riff forges what I can only describe as a quasi, psychedelic mountain of sonic mayhem.
Olde One Ascending is six tracks, clocking in around 48 minutes (give or take), with each song pushing the boundaries of distortion, down tuning, and power chord mastery to the max. What I really enjoyed was how this interplay worked so seamlessly to create a trippy, ethereal quality that permeated the overall record while not getting in the way of it being heavy, AND, to a certain extent, metallic as well.
The pitfall of any stoner rock or doom metal band, though, is getting caught up in too much Sabbath worship or relying too heavily on the signature acid rock sound to define their identity, and thankfully that didn’t happen here. The sound of Olde One Ascending is uniquely Vokonis.
My one criticism is simply this: the vocals droned on a bit with each song. There wasn’t a lot of originality or changing up in terms of the singer’s vocal style. I would like to have heard more in terms of range.
All in all, I really dug Olde One Ascending a lot. At times I heard a dash of Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and Sleep, but distinctly Vokonis demonstrates how well they understand the music they’re making and the genre itself.
The end result is a record that stands out in a rock genre that’s been oversaturated the last few years. Just when you thought stoner rock took its last gasp, Vokonis plugs in, cranks the Sunn amps up to 11, and unleashes fury that’s been sorely missing for a long time. Buy this record.