Raum Kingdom is the self-titled debut release from the four-piece from Drogheda, Ireland, and what a terribly bleak destination Raum Kingdom appears to be. Each of the five tracks here follow a similar modus operandi of lonely, unadorned simple chords into an agitated, post-metal canvas of haunting and impassioned cries, occasionally leavened by brief, cathartic release of crushing repetitive riffs. The general mood is of claustrophobia, tightly wound desire and a very slight sense of the unearthly and ancient at play.
We start with the slow and strangely triumphal ‘Wounds’ – “these wounds, crippling“. There are a series of small crescendos and the ghostly, folky vocals are punctuated with energised, controlled screaming which has the blackened thumb print of Triptykon upon it. It is somehow uplifting whilst being brutally nihilistic – no easy feat.
‘Barren Objects’ mixes fuzzy doom with a post-metal feel in its slightly detached vocal style and near industrial guitars and yet it holds just enough melody to be empathetic before the blackened screams and more energised riff move in to try and dominate, doing battle with the melody in a rare moment of almost theatrical drama.
It will be ‘Cross Reference’, though, that will be the track to draw you in first as solemn chords soundtrack a sample from ‘Black Mirror’ by Charlie Brooker. It’s an impassioned tirade against TV talent shows; it obviously knows it will sit well with its intended audience, but is never the less quite satisfying.
‘These Open Arms’ then bursts into life in much more expansive fashion, going straight on the attack but never quite landing the killer blow before the clean vocals return, but just as you think they’ve missed their chance the brutality prevails. It’s over all too soon, mind.
‘This Sullen Hope’ has more vaguely Celtic backing vocals underpinning the melody, once again beginning in downbeat introspection before absolutely exploding in howling passion and vicious anger, like a cross between Tool and Triptykon. The riff grinds and churns like classic Deftones and finally hangs around long enough to really be effective. The band are clearly very disciplined, driven by something higher than ego and very much of the ‘leave them wanting more’ school of thought.
Raum Kingdom is a bit of a monochrome place, but if they continue to add touches of folk and the avant garde – briefly evident here – then they are on track to create something pretty special in future. I look forward to a full album, where they can hopefully spread their wings a bit more and really explore their obvious left field tendencies. A very assured introduction.