Out of the Great White North, otherwise known as Canada, comes a new cast of storytellers eager to prove their mettle. Combining epic doom with American-style power metal. Smoulder just released their first full-length Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring on the reputable NWOTHM label Cruz Del Sur Music.
Fronted by Sarah Ann on vocals and Shon Vincent on guitar, Smoulder sounds like a sister band of Eternal Champion, a popular trad metal group whose mighty debut we reviewed a while ago. Not only do we have sound wizard Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Code Orange, Cavalera Conspiracy) behind the knobs, Smoulder dives into the same fictional Multiverse created by the author Michael Moorcock.
Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring begins with an ambient sequence, during which front woman Sarah Ann teleports into the skin of Ilian of Garathorm, a female incarnation of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion character. The songs that follow visit several corners of the traditional metal realm. Fans of the old school will delight in the muscular riffs of opener “Ilian of Garathorm” and the swaggering cadence of “Shadowy Sisterhood”. Opposite extremes like the power metal-ripper “Bastard Steel” and the doom-encrusted “The Black God’s Kiss” give the album a fresh and dynamic feel.
While she lacks the amazing range of a Brittney Slayes, Sarah Ann’s voice has enough strength and character to match the record’s booming guitars. Song structures are fairly standard, with identical verses, pre-chorus and chorus sections extended by transitional segments. Every once in a while, I am hearing a riff that really impresses me. Lyrics are quite predictable odes to the warrior lifestyle, but at least we get some literary references to back them up. If Smoulder manages to overcome such obvious shortcomings and expand upon their qualities, they can easily become a flagship band within the genre.
Release date: April 26th, 2019
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
- Ilian of Garathorm
- The Swordwoman
- Bastard Steel
- Voyage of the Sunchaser
- Shadowy Sisterhood
- The Black God’s Kiss