Friday, February 15, 2013

Sodb- Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin(2012)

Sodb- Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin 

Featuring a classic Black Metal sound which occasionally dips into the modern for moments of true inspiration, Sobd's debut demo Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin will at times struggle to maintain a consistent pace of excellence, but when it peaks it towers over the listener with truly glorious arrangements.  Hailing from Ireland, Sodb's sound should at the beginning feel instantly familiar: elements of Emperor, Gorgoroth, Tsjunder and Shining all show themselves throughout the demo and provide much of the backbone for Sodb to explore darker, more melancholic or violent compositions.  It's an impressive demo from beginning to end no doubt, even if it doesn't consistently make a positive impression.

The first thing that stood out was the surprising musicianship featured on Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin: I was consistently blown away by the individual performances on the album, particularly bassist Irene Giragusa, whose twisted basslines slither and squirm throughout the songs yet are never lost in the flurry of riffs and blast-beats.  This is largely due to the brilliant production here, which is absolutely mind-boggling for a debut demo and a band's first release.  The mix is even yet none of the rawness is lost in the guitar sound, while the drums sound phenomenal and completely raw while remaining at the perfect level.  The vocals are perhaps a bit high in the mix, and are also perhaps the least impressive aspect of the bands performance: there's a bit too much reverb on them, and they sound somewhat over-produced in comparison to the rest of the instruments.  The vocals are not bad per-se, but a more raw, throat-ripping performance might have better suited the sound that Sodb have developed.

Outside of the technical aspects however, Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin suffers from a bit of what I like to call "the songs are too fucking long."  Long songs are an incredibly difficult thing to do, and many artists simply fail miserably when they attempt to go over the five minute mark: songs either become a mess of random experimentation or brutal, endurance-testing triathlons of repetition, and in both cases it's because the band ran out of ideas.  These failings are not extreme nor unforgivable on Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin, but they are present, especially on the first two tracks.  "Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin" runs out of steam about half way through and muddles about for about three minutes in a mire of random melodies, sudden starts and stops, and general apathy before it peter's out, while "Aigre Ré" suffers from poor use of repetition and far too much melodic noodling.  Both tracks start strong but end weakly, and show that Sodb still seem to be feeling things out.

But things ascend quickly with "Tethered," a brilliant piece of Norwegian and Swedish influences that heads in some surprising directions.  Starting with a brilliant acoustic and melodic intro, "Tethered" weeps atmosphere and envelops the listener in darkness; the proverbial blizzard in the dead woods.  One hears the influence of Emperor and Shining clearly, but "Tethered" also has some interesting and expertly used elements of modern Atmospheric Black Metal to flesh out the minutia.  There is a hint of Wolves in the Throne Room's rustic woodland-hymns and even a bit of Shoegaze-y ambiance ala- Krallice at work on "Tethered," though it's all very subtle and worked organically into the composition.  "Old and Withered Form" is far more traditional, but it benefits from it's somewhat shorter running time and straight up, Gorgoroth-style neck slicing attack.

 Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin may not be perfect, but without question this is one of the more impressive debut's I've come across.  It's certainly one of the most listenable Black Metal albums in a while, featuring an even production and a classic, well thought out sound featuring plenty of melody.  Those looking for reverb-pinged snare drums and endless armies of grimm ghouls may not be overly impressed with the material here, but anyone looking for a Black Metal album that doesn't excessively challenge while remaining deep, and those looking for a more complex and melodic style of Black Metal that doesn't mesh completely with modern standards, will have a new favorite album in Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin.

Rating: 8.5/10

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