Just what’s going on at the moment in the Irish underground?
It seems the cobwebs have well and truly been blown off some years of water treading. Bands are starting to be really, really adventurous again.
Yes, all scenes ebb and flow. It’s a cycle. But what Soothsayer are doing here is indicative of perhaps a new high water mark of ingenuity, and a fresh hunger.
One of the best things about it is it’s immediate and almost offensive refusal to be categorized. Soothsayer’s basic formulation is an edgy, sharp and metallic doom, but done roughly and with vigour.
The mournful twin guitar sighing that lingers over the plainly superb opener ‘Unveil Them’ just drips with ‘Lamentation’s-era Solstice, while a clear influence from Trouble pervades it.
But heritage doom is most certainly is not. The brutality and force of Liam Hughes’ vocals make this a much more violent affair. There’s a ripping, snatching quality to them that allows you to really hear the anger behind them.
What’s also delicious is the bands unorthodox tones and styles. The guitars aren’t as heavy as they might be, with the solo in ‘Unveil Them’ using a weird old chorus effect. It’s the kind of jangly oddity you’d maybe expect from Virus or Morbus Chron.
Elsewhere I’m certain there are influences creeping in from our own Malthusian, albeit not as obscure and cavernously toned.
’33 From The Sun’ reminds me a bit of class Irish doom act Brigantia, and it’s nice backing vocal ‘aaaahs’ and ‘oooohs’ add real atmosphere. This track as well takes a lateral diversion, going the complete opposite of where you might have expected it, while Liam’s bellowed croons in the back add great drama.
It’s a vast twelve minute feat.
The brilliantly named ‘Lunar Correspondence’ (seriously, 10/10 track name) is the heaviest on here, a snail’s pace doom-death standard that reeks of October Tide, and perhaps, by extension, Katatonia’s very first works, steeped as they were in a supernaturally doomed atmosphere.
There’s a distinct nod to Graveyard Dirt in it too, not to mention Candlemass without the histrionics. And then – out of nowhere – a blazing blastbeat to carry it through to the finish that is pure Altar Of Plagues. It’s incredible.
This band are on fire with this release, which is complemented by fantastic art and the real sense that they know exactly what they’re at.
It’ll be no time before this is picked up, and rightly so. ‘The Soothsayer’ is an invigorating release that shows these guys live and breathe this music – there can be no other genesis from such authentic dark atmospheres, steeped in the spirit of the underground.
It sounds wrapped in cold smoke, sodden with mood and a certain resident darkness. Brilliant stuff altogether.
4.3 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 25/10/15