Vokonis are a brand new name to me. They are 3-piece from Sweden who play doom-laden psychedelic progressive rock. Grasping Time is their third album and it features eight songs, three over 7 minutes long a couple at 5 and 2 short interludes. They formed back in 2015 but do have a new drummer who joined this year. Being new to Vokonis it is difficult to do a comparison, but the new boy Peter is bloody marvelous. Some of his drumming is jaw-dropping. He really impressed me throughout this album.
Apparently also new for this album are two styles of vocal with bassist Jonte adding his gentler style to the gruff growls from guitarist Simon. Some tracks can be quite stoner or sludgy at points but also balanced with ambient psychedelic moments. I am not sure if there is any concept behind the songs or even what the songs are about, but to be honest this is the sort of album that it hardly matters. It is a “VIBE” album. One to put on the headphones and flow with the tide of music.
Opener “Antler Queen” has a touch of Thin Lizzy in one of the riffs, it appears two or three times but only makes up about 40 seconds of the song tops! It is heavy in a Mastodon and Baroness kind of way. Fans of both those bands would certainly dig this. There are a few time changes and plenty of guitar soloing with drum fills everywhere (honest I was air drumming like mad listening to this album) and allows portions to mellow where they go into “Floydian” territory. The pacing is good as is the atmospherics.
The following track “Sunless Hymnal” is for me the best track on the album. It is lighter or more gentle with heavy sections (opposite of the first track) in it. It is music to drift away on. Each instrument is clear and precise. Nothing is swamped. The clean vocals sound so sweet. The song takes its time building, there is no hurry to get to the heavier sections. When they do arrive there is some fine guitar work and loads of drum fills. Sorry did I mention the drums again? They are very affecting yet never overpower the rest of the band. The way they drop back to the opening melody to turn it around to a heavy ending is spot on.
“I Hear The Siren” boots its way out of the speakers, frantic and heavy before going all 60s psychedelia on us for a section. I love the way the guitar solo/refrain at the end of the screams sort of have a spiraling down sound. Lovely effect.
There are a couple of short pieces next. “Exiled” has tribal type drumming with a heavy fuzzy guitar solo over it whereas “Ashes” seems to be an intro the next song “Embers” which goes between a very genteel sound to huge fuzzy noise and back again before the harsh vocals come in. Again the sound and style are reminiscent of the bands I mentioned earlier (Mastodon and Baroness). Another tidy guitar solo underpinned by drum rolls aplenty add to the enjoyment of the track.
The final two tracks seem to merge into each other (due to review copies being the way they are I have to listen to each track separate) and finish the album off nicely. The title track (“Grasping Time”) unusually has both styles of vocals harmonizing nearer the end not just swapping lines or verses, giving it a different vibe. There is some tidy spacing in it and an airy feel, yet at the same time reasonably heavy. “Fading Lights” is pretty mellow at the start. There is some screamed vocals leading into the solo with the groove repeating on bass and drums. The riff around 3 to 4 minutes is a belter, my head was nodding away during it.
Another new band for this reviewer and another which shows the amount of good quality rock and metal that is out there. Vokonis create moods and allow room for each riff or melody to be explored. The heavier riffs are strong and as I said I found my head moving whilst my arms air drummed like mad. This is well-constructed music performed at a high level. I do love 3 piece bands, primarily because you can hear easily what each member is doing and I think members have to be even more on top of their game, having no hiding place. These guys are a very good 3-piece band. I look forward to hearing more from them. I really do want to see them, if only to check out the drummer!
Release date Friday 6 September on Sign Records.