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mercoledì 14 dicembre 2016

Soothsayer - At This Great Depth

#FOR FANS OF: Black/Doom
Leaping lizards! I'm baffled! How can a band release a thirty six minute long EP comprised of three tracks, then follow up a year later with a "full-length" debut limited to just two (yes, 2!) tracks which add up less than a half-hour?! Well, these are precisely the mysterious steps taken by an enigmatic outfit from Cork, Ireland. Say hello to Soothsayer as it plods along a bizarre and forlorn voyage on the far-out fringes of doom metal, namely atmospheric doom for lack of a better term. Released yesterday under Transcending Obscurity Records, 'At This Great Depth' is comprised of a mammoth, sixteen minute-long track, "Umpire" (which bears no relation to Major League Baseball) and a half as mammoth track, "Of Locusts And Moths", clocking in at eight minutes. Needless to say, there's only so much I can recount in regards to this unquestionably odd full-length debut, as much by its brief duration as musical queerness. Then again, nothing's too bizarre or avant-garde for those who take the much less travelled road which is this little known doom sub genre. While it's definitely not my cup of tea - I prefer upbeat, hard-driving doom - I see its appeal as it sets the tone for a melancholic yet cosy mood/state-of mind while also making for interesting background music to introspective thought processes. However short, this release is aptly titled as it does indeed make one feel like they're submerged underwater. Imbued with dark and mournful undertones, "At This Great Depth" unfolds at a snail's pace. The band mates pour heart and soul in their respective vocations, from a tribal driven Will Fahley on drums, Steve Quinn with his glum, spaced out bass lines, or guitarists Marc O'Grady and Con Doyle who manage to coax an intense gallimaufry of discordant and unorthodox sounds out of their instruments. Considering the genre at hand, it's unsurprising druid front man Liam Hughes pops up late in the game, lazily integrating himself with the sporadic musical experimentation at hand. "Umpire" really does make one feel like they're slowly sinking towards the Ocean floor, away from the bright, dry comfort zone of every day life. (Hence my irrepressible impulse to re-surface thirteens minutes in, which is a heck of a long time to hold your breath!). Nevertheless, I'm impressed no keyboards or artificial sounds were employed in the making of this production. The entire affair is rendered with standard heavy metal equipment. It's rather the apparent abuse Hughes subjects his vocal chords to which is unforgivable (yet thankfully forgettable). His spastic nothings can be described as an unsettling cross between a hiss and a screech. Any kind of lyrical clarity is nonexistent, while the bass playing and drumming doesn't quite amount to a comprehensive and steady rhythm section. In fact, they sound like nothing more than thunderously irregular accompaniment. In general, the spotlight (er, dark light?) is placed on Hughes and the guitarists. To sum this up and avoid a tedious, thousand word play-by-play, I'll simply place At This Great Depth in the realm of well established atmospheric doom who'll probably enjoy this recording if only for its esoteric nature. To Soothsayer's credit, the desired atmosphere - one of a cold numbing grace - has been adequately achieved. Unfortunately, it also lacks any kind of memorable passages or singular musical thrills. Therefore, I strongly urge "regular" doom and/or heavy metal fans to tread lightly when giving this release a cursory listen. Adventurous as it was, one glacial plunge was enough for me. Proceed with caution. (Eric Moreau)

(Transcending Obscurity - 2016)
Score: 45