The German outfit VOLTRON, being active since 2002, can surely be called veterans in the country’s musical landscape, although I had never heard about them yet. That’s definitely not their fault as they are approaching the doom scene from a more hardcore/punk-background, which is not my primary area of expertise. Creating music for more than ten years now, they are sporting a bold discography of three EPs and two full-lengths, of which 'Kaventsmann' is their newest release from 2012. And according to the title it is a mighty chunk of heaviness. In nautical terms, a Kaventsmann is a giant wave, this theme is underlined by a giant sperm whale on the cover, so I’m expecting something really crushing here. And I am positively surprised by the first track that they don’t try to achieve this crushing heaviness on all costs, their sound is not over-produced, but pleasantly natural. The guitars come along warm and thick, the drum sound is natural and authentic. The first song is more or less a relentless head-nodding riff assault, with some nice guitar melodies thrown in.
With the song’s title you’re also immediately introduced to VOLTRON's strange humour, which starts with odd aliases like Hille Toughsky or Nik Hayakyu-ou and peaks in weird song titles like '13 Liter Bohrmaschine' or 'Pittiplatsch Anoraknarök'. Is this funny? Your decision, for me it is just VOLTRON's way to say that any song title is ok, as long the song got a title at all. The second tune 'Black To Back' (yes, not the other way around!) is more varied, starting with an atmospheric clean guitar intro and climaxing in a maelstrom of double-bass attacks and multiple vocal onslaughts. Next up is 'Studententoeter', mighty doom riffs alternate with silent, melodious passages which create haunting atmospheres to eventually evolve into chugging metal riffs to bang your head against walls.
While listening to 'Kaventsmann' it becomes obvious, that VOLTRON have a musical formula - different parts and even songs sound rather similar, although they include some shifts of variation from time to time. It is not as brutal as I expected, although the vocals are a throaty growl throughout, but the aforementioned warm guitar sound takes away some of the rough edges of the music. I absolutely dig this sound, but it’s almost too pleasing to transport the aggressiveness summoned by the harsh vocal style. 'Kaventsmann' is definitely more an album in the whole than a collection of songs.
Being an intense journey for more than 55 minutes, I admit I would have preferred more than one or two real outstanding songs like the first three minutes of 'Faster Than Nothing Still Can Be Slow', which offers an almost catchy chorus or in 'Medic Help!', where they finally vary their grooves to great effect. All in all, 'Kaventsmann' keeps growing and gets better and better till the end, with 'Fuckoverforevertime (Fucktimeforeverover)' serving as a great ending, like you have been finally swallowed by a mighty whale after struggling for hours in the rough sea. The packaging is also worth mentioning (which unfortunately wasn't part of the promo CD), because 'Kaventsmann' will come in a round metal case, with a handcrafted print and with seaweed inside the case as a bonus. Tell me how you want to beat that!