Samothrace - Reverence To Stone (2012)


When a band name starts to rumble through metal publications across the world, it is always a wise move to stop and listen. So, each time the name Samothrace popped up, it was like a tiny bird, whispering in our ears. This psychedelic doom four piece, based in the grunge capital of the world, Seattle, Washington (by way of Kansas), has seen quite the buzz surrounding them, not coincidentally coinciding with the release of their new album, "Reverence To Stone." Named for the Greek island where a statue of the goddess of victory stands, half crumbled, it won't be long before these four musicians are in position to be immortalized in stone.

The first track, a mere 14 minute opus called "When We Emerged," begins in the most innocent of fashion. Building from singular guitar riffs into a much broader sound, the band infuses a dose of melody immediately. But with each crushing chord and down stroke of the drums, you can feel something else brewing. For despite the more restrained opening, a beast is on the way. Around the four minute mark, everything slows to a crawl, with a coarse scream rising from underneath it all. You are now in the middle of a more traditional doom tempo, slow and deliberate. But almost seamlessly, you erupt back into more melodic riffs, rising and falling around you. The screaming growls continue, sparingly, but they fall farther back in the mix, allowing the instrumental to grab your attention. When they do cut through to make an impact, it is in a big way. The transitions are a little funky at times, at one point delving into something akin to post rock, before moving back into doom, then sludge. There is a constant shifting that, perhaps, prevents things from getting the momentum started. But the variety keeps this behemoth from going stale too quickly.

The second and final track, "A Horse Of Our Own," embodies the same basic structure, but is far more guitar driven. From the opening whines, the guitars are the focus, winding and turning the track in whatever way they see fit. Cutting back and forth between heavy distortion and clean effects is a nice touch, though the frequency with which they execute this may be what drives it home. The quieter passages play out like a lullaby, which is a strange comparison to make on a doom album. But with their softly played guitars and light drums, the cradle could be rocked in time. However, the amount of therapy and counseling it would take to cleanse your child after the brutal screams and guitars reenter is not worth the risk. This is a far more intricate offering than the last, with some impressive solo work taking the spotlight around the midway point. To their credit, the rough recording quality only accents how great the musicianship really is. After a round of beautifully played psychedelic guitars, you can understand how well rounded this effort is, finally bookended by a doom portion so slow, it makes drone look like thrash.

Music isn't an exact science. That is what makes it so intriguing. There isn't a rule book that lays out time constraints, melody requirements, and distortion thresholds. So, what you get from Samothrace is a truly unique piece of metal, tweaked and skewed through their own vision. In 35 minutes, and only two tracks, they take you to highs and lows, and everything in between. Yes, there is room to grow. That is a given. But the positive remains; this band, playing this style, will continue to get better with each release. And where ever they go from here, whatever they put together, could be the one that gets them a place in metal lore. For now, "Reverence To Stone" will be the album that gets them noticed.

7.5/10

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