SMOULDER - Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring
Release date April 26/19 (Cruz del Sur)
Given this one at least five listens to date, going through different interpretations each time around. Usually, I'll have a grasp on a record by at least the third listen (sometimes the first!), so it has been an interesting exercise to say the least.
Getting the easy background stuff out of the way first, Smoulder is an epic trad/doom outfit based out of Toronto with this representing their debut full length album. At the mic is none other than Sarah Ann of Banger TV fame, while a couple of Olorin dudes fill the drum stool and one of the guitarist spots.
Considering the problems I've had consuming this, I've decided to use the trusty good/bad approach for this review.
i- The riffs! There's no doubting that doom metal lives and dies on the strength of its riffage, and here Smoulder bring the hammer down with some memorable headbanging riffs.
ii- Instrumental prowess. It's obvious that all the members are serious players of their assigned instruments, able to deliver their vision with conviction and passion.
ii- Holy shit, who knew Sarah could sing? Delivering a clean, powerful performance she comes across like the horse-bound female warrior on the album cover.
i- Too much singing. The tracks are chock-a-block with story-telling-vocals, meaning that there aren't enough instrumental sections to let the band shine and the songs to breathe.
ii- Fantasy lyrics. Not a big fan of this type of swords and sorcery fare, especially when constantly hit over the head with the story telling.
iii- Vocals too high in the mix. Not a bad production, but I would have preferred to hear the guitarists taking front and centre, moving the vocals to the middle of the mix.
A very solid debut with a lot of things on the plus side of the ledger (riffs dammit!) and easily corrected areas that point to an extremely promising future.