Kingnomad’s Prog Rock tendencies have been at the forefront from their inception, but these elements are expressed in their purest form on Sagan Om Rymden (Ripple Music). The group has about completely phased out the Stoner Doom tinges that helped shape their first two albums, allowing their third to expand their dynamics without a single hint of fuzz to be found. While this does make a less heavy album on the surface, a combination of energy and commitment to atmosphere results in what is easily the band’s boldest effort yet.
With the guitars taking on a more restrained role, the other performers do an excellent job of filling things out. The keyboards play the most dominant role, reinforcing a polished aesthetic with squeaky melodies and atmospheric patches in classic Seventies Prog fashion. The vocals have also stepped up considerably, sitting more prominently in the mix with lines that channel early Ghost with their more drawn out cadences. The pounding drumbeats give an almost danceability to the proceedings, not quite reaching the AOR style of their fellow Swedes in Hallas but achieving a similarly catchy spirit.
And while the album lacks a twenty-minute epic in the vein of 2018’s The Great Nothing, there are plenty of sweeping songs to work with. ‘Small Beginnings’ is an early highlight with a ‘Kashmir’-esque stomp that makes it seem even more grandiose than its four-minute runtime would suggest. ‘Tillbakablick – The Usurper King’ manages to be about as breezy even with a length that’s nearly twice as long and ‘Multiverse’ was a wise choice for a lead single with its off-time rhythm and subtly infectious eastern melodies.
If there’s anything to really critique about this album, it’s the track order. The meat of the album flows quite well, but I find myself wondering if the beginning and end could’ve been more impactful. This is especially true with ‘The Unanswered Question’; the spoken segment courtesy of Ripple head Todd Severin and groovy fanfare make for an excellent track, yet I find myself thinking it would’ve been even more effective as an overture or interlude.
While Kingnomad has been on my radar since 2017’s Mapping The Inner Void, their third album is easily their strongest achievement yet. It is a satisfying culmination of an upward trajectory, presenting an enjoyable Prog Rock style backed by engaging musicianship and songwriting that is more accessible than it initially lets on. If you’re an unacquainted listener, this is an extremely worthy entry point to a spaced-out yet groovy adventure.
9 / 10