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Smoulder – Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring

Smoulder
Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring
by Rachel Montgomery at 09 May 2019, 6:48 AM

SMOULDER is a doom metal band from Canada releasing their sophomore album “Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring.” The sound is anthemic and powerful, but the vocals and some of the mid-tones in the guitars can become sludgy. While I believe it’s a production-quality issue and doesn’t reflect the band’s talent, it still hovers over the album and really puts a damper on it. The opening track, “Ilian of Garathorm,” begins with a buildup to a heavier sound lasting over a minute. When it crescendos, it reaches an anthemic peak. When the vocals kick in, they have a nice, clear quality to them, but stick in mid-range. The song has a hard-hitting chorus and a few riff change-ups to keep things interesting. The guitar solo is solid. Overall, it’s a nice opener.

The next track, “The Wild Swordswoman,” is slower and less anthemic, and reminds me of GRAND MAGUS. Here is where I believe the doom metal sound is at its strongest. The drums are really good at capturing a dark mood and here, the vocals soar in the lead singer’s higher range. However, the production quality drowns out the vocals, especially since the vocalist often sticks to the middle of her range. Throughout the album, the sludgy production creates a muddy vocal quality. It’s a staple of Doom Metal, but if you’re looking for the clear and crisp quality, you might not like this. In “Bastard Steel,” the vocalist is buried I can’t enjoy the singing. Her voice either needs to be turned up in the studio, or she needs to develop her range and vocal power to soar over the instrumentals. The song isn’t all bad, though. The drums give the song a solid open and the guitars at the end are wonderful: thrashing, soaring.

“Voyage of the Sunchaser” has great ambiance at the beginning (I love a stormy-sea beginning even though I think it’s becoming cliché). Here is where the vocals soar. However, while they’re at their best so far, they’re still trapped by the instrumentals and dropped-down sound of the rest of the album. The same problem features again on “Shadowy Sisterhood.” It has an anthemic beginning and the vocals start strong, but the music drowns it out again. I love the riff in the solo and I would enjoy this song more if the vocals were clearer. For tracks 4 and 5, I can say the vocals are clearer than tracks 2 and 3, and it has a nice, doom-metal sound. The closing track, “The Black God’s Kiss,” is a longer song where the vocals are better, the guitar becomes sludgy.
Basically, the same issue recurs throughout the album: the toned-down sound seeps through the album and distorts the guitars and drowns the vocals. If you’re a fan of doom metal, this may work for you, but if not, the sound will be too muddy. Plus, the anthemic sound is created with consistent drum beats and not a lot of variety in the riffs. A few change-ups here and there, but mostly, the same. The overall sound and feel reminds me of very early WITHIN TEMPTATION, which is why I think there’s hope. If the band works on their vocals and guitar variety and changes up their sound mixing to make everything crystal clear, they could be one of the greats.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Ilian of Garathorm
2. The Wild Swordswoman
3. Bastard Steel
4. Voyage of the Sunchaser
5. Shadowy Sisterhood
6. The Black God's Kiss
Lineup:
Sarah Ann - Vocals
Shon Vincent - Guitar
Collin Wolf - Guitar
Adam Blake – Bass
Kevin Hester - Drums
Record Label: Cruz Del Sur Records
     


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