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Soulskinner – Seven Bowls of Wrath

Soulskinner
Seven Bowls of Wrath
by Brian Lowrie at 26 November 2020, 5:36 PM

Even though there has been an unspoken rivalry between black metal and death metal, one of today’s current trends is blending the two genres to varying degrees; as such, what was once a compelling mash-up has become something I find to be over-saturated, dull and uninspired. However, Soulskinner is one of the few bands that wants to take it a step further, introducing doom metal elements into the mix, choosing to focus on the blackened influence for the dominant sound, while the death and doom elements are more or less subtle nods. This results in their newest album, called “Seven Bowls of Wrath”, to be a record that is mildly aggressive, but mostly slow-burning, rewarding the more patient listeners with a surprisingly morose sounding album (despite what the band name entails).

It might sound a bit unusual, but the first impression I had of the opening instrumental track “Tetraktys” was “I bet this would be killer as an 8-bit track for a Castlevania-style video game”. Turns out, that would be an impression that would last throughout the entire album. “Night” starts off with a clean intro, and follows it up with variations of the same melody. This track really likes to have the guitars take the lead into a section, with the rest of the band following suit. “The Principles of Truth” could be considered one of the “heavier” songs on the album, as the rhythms are more grandiose as opposed to the traditional tremolo- picked riffs and blast-beats heard on “Night”. Unfortunately, this song loses it’s steam around the half-way mark; it seems the focus shift from the heavier intro is scrapped in favor of a more droning and doom inspired approach. Even though this is where we hear a lot of experimentation with samples, it still feels long-winded for being a six minute track. “Eternal”, on the other hand, doesn’t have an issue keeping it’s higher tempo through out. Even the “slower” parts felt stabilized due to the steady sounding drum performance by George Canavaris, and the midway break into something more in the vain of melodic death metal doesn’t feel unwarranted. “Regeneration of the Soul” should have been one of the better songs on the album, putting more emphasis on an old-school death metal style of riffing with fairly dark overtones; however, the triplet-note sections that occur in this track feel like the black sheep of the melodies in this track, and ultimately make one of the more brutal tracks feel clumsy.

Reaching the half-way marker of the album, I can’t help but feel a little exhausted of this LP already. Hoping that there would be some sort of revival for this release, “Primitive Light” brings a familiar charisma, opening like an Insomnium track, but again switching gears entirely into an old-school death metal sound. The guitar solo was a nice touch, but this track also has the same issues as “Regeneration of the Soul”, where the leaps this song takes aren’t just surprising, but also somewhat confusing. One of my unwritten laws for extreme music is the title track has to be one of the more impressive tracks on the album, and luckily “Seven Bowls Of Wrath” feels like one of the more inspired tracks on the album. It plays out like a track from “The Somberlain” by Dissection, serving as a solid tribute to older melodic black metal with hints of death metal. Even though the stylistic liberties in this song aren’t much different than the tracks I found to be lackluster, there is a sense of certainty in this track specifically that helps this  be less cumbersome to listen to.

As someone who isn’t a music producer, yet always found myself surrounded by them, I’ve always stood by the notion that production can either make or break an album. Luckily, it hardly ever breaks an album for me; “Angel of Darkness” was oddly enough the first track in the album where the production values really stood out to me. I noticed that the production is insanely clear for an album of this genre, even though the drums could stand to be a little louder. The tightness of the guitar tracks also stands out in the intro for “The Destroyer of Worlds”, as every slight scrape of the strings is present, helping this feel like one of the more natural elements of the song. Even so, the song often has more headbang-worthy rhythm sections over more dolorous lead guitars, which is a conflict I struggled to become acquainted with. “The Death Seal” has become my one standout track of the album, as everything not only feels the most cohesive, but also the most interesting. It’s unfortunate that the band finally nailed their sound on the final track of the album, as it feels “too little, too late” for the album.

I feel weird about this album as a whole. As a band who has been on the scene for almost 20 years, some of the artistic liberties taken in this album feel amateur, for lack of a better word; this isn’t a statement regarding the musicianship of the album. As I said, everything sounds ridiculously tight for an album in this genre. However, it feels as though the band is still attempting to find their “sound” for most of the record; this takes it’s toll on my desire to replay the album in the future, despite how strong the stronger moments are.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 4
Production: 7


2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Tetraktys
2. Night
3. The Principles of Truth
4. Eternal
5. Regeneration Of The Soul
6. Primitive Light
7. Seven Bowls Of Wrath
8. Angel Of Darkness
9. The Destroyer of Worlds
10. The Death Seal
Lineup:
Marios Lampouridis – Vocals
Bill Zobolas – Bass, Guitars
Spyros Triantafyllou – Guitar
Kostas Analytis – Bass
George Canavaris – Drums
Record Label: Xtreem Music
     


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Edited 17 January 2021
 

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