An old friend of mine, a hardcore punk elitist, had the staunch opinion that female vocalists in punk/metal were just a gimmick. I was never in the mood to argue with his sexism and hyper-masculinity, though occasionally my silent ire got the best of me, and I would try to play as much music with women or non-binary band members. Usually, he’d ask who the band was, and regularly enjoyed all that I played. I never wanted to point out his hypocrisy, though my inner feminist deeply regrets this.
Though I’m relatively new to experiencing doom metal, the oppressive atmospheres customary to the subgenre are an infatuation of mine. “Puritan Masochism,” the debut album by Konvent, a doom metal band comprised solely of women, is a thunderous walk down a murky autumn path.
Much like subsequent frontrunners of the genre, like Louisiana’s Thou, the sludgy tone of Konvent is consistent, swampy, and callous. Vocally, Konvent sounds vicious, bristling with heaviness. However, where Konvent excel in their vocals, they gradually fail in song variety and technicality. The same riff seems to go on for four to five minutes at a time, and even then, that rhythm is mostly just the lead guitar chunkily chugging along. Incessant repetition becomes the downfall of “Puritan Masochism,” which is so unfortunate considering how much I loved their 2017 demo.
Regardless of how much it drags toward its second half, “Puritan Masochism” is still a very special listen, particularly because Konvent have carved for themselves a signature and electric sound with their debut LP. For a relatively young band, they’ve already molded a place for themselves to fit among other doom bands, while simultaneously holding high the mature evolution their music has made so quickly. Despite the lack of creative guitar or drum work, I don’t think this constitutes Konvent as any less passionate than they are.
“Puritan Masochism” is powerful and crushing, and it’s definitely one of my favorite metal releases this year (especially after being so bored by black metal lately). When I listen to this record, I instantly imagine how fun and wild this batch of songs would be live; I bet they’re absolutely mesmerizing.