Epic doom is alive and well in 2019! Not only do we have a new Candlemass, with Johan Langqvist—and a guest appearance from Iommi—but there are also a few new outfits eschewing bongs and wizards for swords and sorcery, all in the name of doom. Among this new wave of heaviness is Toronto’s Smoulder, who have damn near sold out every copy of their debut album, Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring.
This six-song effort begins with “Ilian of Garathorm,” which opens with church bells and swirling effects before laying down the doom for six and a half minutes. The soaring, epic leads recall the German power doom of Atlantean Kodex, before they settle into a melodic, mid-paced chug, complete with vicious female vocals that deliver the tales of battle and triumph. “The Sword Woman” is a slower, doomier effort with a plodding tempo that recalls Candlemass and vocals that really soar above the mix. “Bastard Steel” picks up the pace into vintage speed-metal territory, a six-minute ripper with some killer Painkiller riffs and an epic chorus.
“Voyage of the Sunchaser” has the most extended evil intro on the album, a plodding, pulsing, slice of heightened anxiety backed by a tribal drumbeat. A stop-start section kicks in around the 1:45 mark signaling a change in tempo to some more mid-paced, riff-forward fare. The more compact “Shadowy Sisterhood” starts off in mid-tempo power/doom territory; this one’s a rumbling, straight-ahead chugger that’s over in just under four and a half minutes.
Album closer “Black God’s Kiss” delivers the doom metal epic we’ve been waiting for, a shade over nine minutes of brooding misery and existential dread, with a touch of Reverend Bizarre. Most bands don’t write ‘em like that anymore…
(Cruz Del Sur)