In recent years doom metal has been in an incredible state of good health and the last 12 months or so have been testament to this with the likes of Esoteric and Ahab all releasing superb records and on the more traditional doom end of the spectrum, things haven’t been too shabby either (see: Hour of 13). Now enter Samothrace, with their second LP “Reverence to Stone”, the follow-up to 2008’s “Life’s Trade”, it seems the gestation period for a new album moves at the same pace of their stoner doom music but it’s a wait well observed.
Samothrace’s stoner doom couldn’t sound any bigger or invigorating. Taking much from the obvious Sleep influence, the Seattle based four-piece has still crafted an enthralling and exhilarating doom record in “Reverence to Stone”. With just two tracks, but considerably lengthy ones, Samothrace effortlessly pull you into a world that’s both serene and sinister. It’s the balancing act between lush melodies and dense, crushing doom that really draws one’s attention towards this band.
First song “When We Emerged” uncoils with some hypnotic ambience to begin before descending into a wretched din characterised by avalanching riffs, a la Mourning Beloveth, and bile soaked vocals that drench the air. Soon though, the song morphs into something almost unrecognisable from the passages that preceded it. Sleek melodic lead guitars slowly begin to bloom, eventually blossoming into a beautiful instrumental mid-section that sprawls over a couple minutes only to be met by the vocals’ return and more tectonic riffing that sees the song then begin to wilt away.
“A Horse of Our Own” then is a grand, 20 minute piece instigating with more of those stunning lead guitars that conjure such an imposing, and sometimes threatening, air. Once again, Samothrace meander through staggering aural vistas dipping into a lush ambient passage around the five minute mark before returning to monolithic riffs and swans in and out of the mellow and the thunderous several times over and over, all with such ease, but ends in wretched, pained fashion as Brian Spinks’ screech is the last sound heard.
Much like the mythical tales of Ancient Greece that the band are named after, “Reverence to Stone” is grand, majestic and imposing. Also encased in absolutely stunning artwork, everything about this album has been crafted with nothing but love and care. And it shows in everywhere and most importantly in the music, because this is one stunning record.
“Reverence to Stone” is available via 20 Buck Spin.