By Jonathan Smith
The intro track to A Somber Wind from a Distant Shore is over almost as soon as it’s begun. It has an atmosphere that one wishes would hang around longer, one that is never as prominent throughout the rest of Minnesota-based Canis Dirus’ debut album as it should be. That isn’t to say that there aren’t awesome moments on the disc — there are, and when they come up they’re obvious in their moody quality and blackened metallic punch that is slower and more focused on creating a wall of noise than galloping along at top speeds. The instrumentals of TMP are revealed in full force on the title track, and “In the Season of the Shadows” in particular is epic in all the right ways. Ending similarly to how it began, Distant Shore offers a last haunting hurrah with the quiet outro that is “. . . in Deep Waters.” The rest of the time, however, it’s too often a more generic cacophony of black metal. Vocalist RH displays a broad range in his howls and shrieks, but in (admittedly admirably) choosing to forgo any real menace they too frequently slide into “tortured and helpless” wails that comes off as pretty cheesy. They often appear at awkward moments, especially given how prominent the vocals are in the mix. Overall, there is stuff to appreciate on A Somber Wind from a Distant Shore, but one hopes that Canis Dirus will have lots of time to surprise us with their growth in the coming and changing seasons.