This is the debut album by Sons of a Wanted Man from Belgium, who have been around as a band for around 5 or 6 years. Reading their résumé, and finding out who their preferred artists are – always helpful, I find – it seems their chosen poison is a form of blackened post metal.
The first striking thing is the intensity and ferocity. Setting off like an express train, the title track takes us through fires and melancholic gloom, but above all it has purpose. From that epic heights can be reached, and Sons of a Wanted Man reach them. Just as I imagined winds sweeping across a deserted plain, so this image is invoked and “Kenoma” ends. But the epic swathes continue with “Serpentine”, another monster of an adventure from blackened skies. No quarter is given. There is devastation. There is anger. There is fire. “Canine Devotion” pumps along with deliberate intent. Wistfulness creeps through the fiery vocals and instrumental power. A rather strange haunting sound provides the background to the solemn heaviness of the final part. “Under A Lightless Sky” does the job but goes too much through the now established motions for me. This album has all the dark moodiness of Deafheaven. The start of “Absent” suggests something quiet but it explosively bursts into life. The twists and turns are such that my hair didn’t stand on end. Rather it was more of a case of adapting to the changing patterns and transforming soundscapes, at which Sons of a Wanted Man are adept. Melancholic strains somehow creep through this typically harsh scene. By “Amor Fati” this was becoming what a friend would call a “scenario” – the same bleak and harsh scene is forced upon us. I’m not sure whether to delight in the instrumental developments and power, or condemn it for lack of progress. It’s too good for condemnation but where at the beginning I had felt as if I was being swept away, I now felt that I was listening out of obligation instead of sensing any wonderment at the world that Sons of a Wanted Man have created. The outro “Pleroma” then nicely takes us away dreamily by contrast to what has gone before. But I had stopped dreaming.
Lofty as it is, I felt that “Kenoma” needed greater imagination. The instrumentals and overall production are full on but its world, which at first was impressive, eventually stood still and it was more a case for me of identifying technique than being inspired by the atmosphere, to which I had become immune.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)