It’s been a long wait for those of us whose curiosity was piqued by the dark, emotional splendour of Irish quartet Raum Kingdom’s 2014 self-titled EP. Finally, an album, Everything & Nothing (both self-released) is here, and almost from the outset, it oozes the hostile, plaintive post-Metal beauty for which one would hope.
The atmospheric ambiance of opener ‘Summon’ gives way to a heavy riff, balanced by morose yet tuneful lead play and Dave Lee’s howling call to the wild. There are early indications of Belgian “post” legends AmenRa, a bleak harshness accompanied by Lee’s vocal style, a quiet whisper rising to a sudden, heartfelt roar. The ensuing ‘Dig’ also invokes such comparisons, the dry bark complementing the subtle, melodic intonations. A gentle mid-section of Radiohead-esque lilts is flattened by Andrew Colohan’s incredible guitar work, flitting from Post-Black flickering to an explosive, reducing riff without losing an ounce of power or feeling. The album’s first epic, the burning, blistering ‘Winter’, is blessed with a haunting guest vocal from Makavrah’s Mia Govoni and it is she and Lee, together with the ever-growing influence of Colohan, who induce tears as they dictate a beautiful, aching centrepiece, with the track perfectly underpinned by the pensive yet rumbling rhythms.
What really tears the listener apart is each track’s ability to engage them fully: to enable one to be drawn into the same depth of feeling and range of emotions as the protagonists. The tension of the delectable ‘Walk With Reality’ is palpable from the first strains, yet pregnant as much with beauty as with pain: Lee balancing gorgeous harmonies with harrowing emanations in a God-delivered hybrid of Colin van Eeckhout and Thom Yorke, the attack switching from an edgy softness to an onslaught of shimmering shards.
‘Rebuilding the Bridge’ brutalises Karnivool territory, with more aching vocals evoking images of Ian Kenny before occasionally staccato, slashing savagery melds with a crushing weight, and although a seemingly standard template has revealed itself by this stage, the urge to be washed by this hypnotic morass remains. The bitter recriminations of ‘Hidden Pain’ show themselves in jagged rhythms, harsh outpourings of grief and sharp splinters of melody: whilst the ice-cold atmospheres of closer ‘Struggle’ give way to a progressive violence, it’s slow final segment swelling with phosphorescent power and agony.
It’s unusual to have such a vast array of harmony surrounded by such visceral power: unusual, and bloody wonderful. The musicianship and emotional design make Everything & Nothing and its creators a serious force and provide a stunning, exhausting, yet very rewarding experience.