01. The Invocation
02. Queen of the Night
03. A Criminal Mind
04. State of Emptiness
The Invocation is the debut EP release from Finnish stoner doom outfit Cpt. Kronos and is, at its core, a stripped down and simplistic attempt to recreate the style of the classic bands of the genre. The degree to which Cpt. Kronos were influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, and other acts listed on the band’s Facebook page, is undeniable and the result is an aping of a classic sound which unfortunately falls flat at almost every turn.
The album starts on a high note, the opening riffs of the title track having a solid, upbeat tempo and it starts the EP off with some light-hearted groove and feeling. Regrettably, this positive impression drops off almost immediately as the vocals pop in to drown out the instrumentation and the most significant failing of the album becomes apparent. For me the single greatest weakness of The Invocation undoubtedly lies in its production and, though a certain degree of roughness in this regard could be forgiven as a further element of the aggressively old school sound the band are going for, it reaches the point where it makes it a real struggle to enjoy the record at all.
Second track “Queen of the Night” again starts off well with a riff which could have come right out of the playbook of Toni Iommi, and continues on a positive note with a vocal performance noticeably stronger than in the opener. However, once again the song quickly loses any power and force it had as an attempt at a more doom-oriented and layered sound suffers for the weak fuzz-heavy guitar tone, crying out for at least a little more bass and distortion to fatten up the sound as a whole. The EP picks up again with “A Criminal Mind” recapturing some of the energy of the opener and including an interesting (if slightly cheesy) breakdown, but once again even at its best The Invocation can’t help but suffer for the lacklustre sound of the recording as a whole.
Vocals on The Invocation are weak as a whole but sound unduly feeble and lacking in conviction as a result of their ill-advised position in the mix. Loud vocals at the forefront with muted guitar and rhythm sections stifle the band’s sound and are a huge drawback when aiming for the slower and more layered atmospheric passages within tracks. Lyrically there is little if anything the band seem to have to say, with a predictable focus on evil women, darker elements of the human psyche and all the sorts of things you might stumble upon after choosing a few Black Sabbath tracks out of a hat. In light of how overwhelmingly negative the rest of the review must seem I will say I personally have no real problem with the lyrics being a little lacking in subtlety; this actually contributes to the nostalgic element seemingly so central to the band’s desired sound and style.
The Invocation is an example of stoner doom at its most bare and simplistic, going to great lengths to capture some of the ideas and sounds that defined the genre during its initial rise to prominence. Unfortunately for Cpt. Kronos, the garage quality production and hit and miss song-writing stand in the way of The Invocation ever really capturing the magic of the classic albums it is trying so clearly to ape. Despite all this, the occasional high points found on the record demonstrate the band are capable of writing catchy riffs, especially those channelling the more upbeat and light-hearted elements of their sound, and I would certainly be interested in hearing what they could produce with a more considered production and mix. Until then it’s difficult to recommend The Invocation to any but the most diehard fans of classic stoner doom.