Dead Kosmonaut - Gravitas
High Roller Records
Doom, Heavy Metal
8 songs (46:41)
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Goat

Swedish five-piece Dead Kosmonaut have been together for around five years now, and their second full-length is a solid if inessential piece of metal. Somewhere between a less Viking Grand Magus and a less doomy later Candlemass, this is a solidly epic formula that soothes and, indeed, hits the spot, but never quite manages to excite. Which may just be a combination of personal tastes and teething issues, because instrumentally there's nothing wrong with the widdly opening that Black Tongue Tar provides, and the way that the album continues from then on is both considered and smooth, Iscariot's Dream a mid-paced groover that works well as a classic rock-infused bit of heavy metal swagger. The guitars especially are consistently good, both Fredrik Folkare (also of death metal legends Unleashed) and Per Fransson clearly excellent musicians, and a real strength to Dead Kosmonaut. The songwriting may be a step behind; Vanitatis Profeta takes a step towards prog metal territory and struggles in keeping the listener's attention as it does, for instance. Across the album, the band are consistently better when going for the epic heavy metal or doom stridency, not least because Per "Hellbutcher" Gustavsson (also of Nifelheim, which was a pleasant surprise to discover!) has the clean singing voice that fits it so well (on other highlight The Spirit Divide especially).

The real test comes on the longer pieces here, not least eleven-minute epic Hell-Heaven, which has an odd Bruce Dickinson solo material vibe, filling its time well with plenty of melodic guitarwork but not making a real impact or demanding multiple listens, which tracks that length of this genre have to. Sure, in the latter half the lead guitarwork is great, but it's not tied into the song in a persuasive way, something repeated in the album's second epic Dead Kosmonaut part II - opening with a great, commanding vocal performance and leading into guitar pyrotechnics and Church organs, all of which are compelling elements in their own right. And that's the end of the album, and you're left wanting that extra something special to really make Gravitas stand out. A solid if flawed album that shows the band's skills off but also suggests that they can do better, Dead Kosmonaut are a name to watch.

Killing Songs :
Black Tongue Tar, The Spirit Divide
Goat quoted 60 / 100
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