Doom metal is something that's an acquired taste; either you're a fan of it or you're not, and those who are fans of it will probably go crazy over Kansas four-piece Samothrace's latest offering, Life's Trade. It's a four song album that's roughly fifty minutes long and has no shortage on heaviness. Samothrace are one of the more interesting bands to come out of the doom metal scene lately, and there's a lot more to the band than just heaviness. They take elements of post-metal, psychedelic rock, and stoner metal and mix into their doom metal sound to make one damn fascinating album, but in a good way.
To a casual listener, Life's Trade may just come across as another one of "those" albums that is praised by many, but misunderstood by others who aren't into this breed of metal. So, how would this sound appeal to someone who's never heard a doom or stoner metal song before in their life? Well, for one, Samothrace do branch outside their usual down-tempo heaviness on numerous occasions. As I mentioned earlier, they incorporate a lot of different genre styles into their sound, whether it be the occasional post-rock influenced guitar melodies (quite similar to those by the band, Pelican), or the extremely up-tempo solos where guitarist Daniel Nokes could be mistaken for Matt Pike (Sleep, High on Fire) at some points. They even do a solid job of building a psychedelic atmosphere that a band from the late-60's-early 70's could have possibly created.
If there were two words to describe this album in a nutshell, they would be "intriguing" and "repetitive." While the album itself is a damn solid (and really fucking heavy) metal album, there are a lot of instances where I felt that I was listening to the same song the entire time. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, considering that there are a lot of metal albums with songs that blend in together to create a mind blowing experience. Hell, arguably best stoner metal album ever is one hour long song, that's Dopesmoker for those who don't know, so the four tracks on Life's Trade blending into one isn't really a terrible thing at all. However, the repetitive nature of the band is one thing that drags them down, particularly the vocals. Vocalist Brian Spink delivers a lot of incoherent shrieks, grunts, and screams that go with the music well and are very frightening, but that's all he does. The vocals are used more as an atmospheric effect and they work, but how he uses the exact same screams, grunts, growls, etc. for every song is kind of annoying.
With all of this said, Life's Trade is an excellent album to add to the record collections of doom metal fans everywhere. This wont exactly win over many new fans as it's not an accessible album by any means and will take a few listens to digest, but it's definitely worth the time. As for Samothrace, they are off to a great beginning as this is a behemoth of a debut album. Will they be able to make an album like Dopesmoker? Possibly. Only time will tell.
8.0 / 10
Bryan Spinks (Samothrace, vocalist/guitarist) SPB: How did you get so bloody heavy? Spinks: I suppose it is a culmination of some different things. Obviously ...
Posted March 23, 2014, 2:17 p.m.
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