Samothrace – Reverence To Stone

Posted: August 8, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Anticipation and preconceptions can fool you. Same can be said about influence from sources you trust wholeheartedly. My relationship with Samothrace was non-existing before information of their new record hit my radar from web-pages I follow like a blindfolded sheep. The reviews of their new opus, “Reverence To Stone” was far from deriving. The comments and reviews were all praising this record, and as a lover of long-length songs, I squealed with joy when I found out the CD consisted of two songs, together reaching the length of 35 minutes. But anticipation and preconceptions can fool you.

Samothrace’s brand of contrast-heavy, melodic funeral doom is a force to be reckoned with. They have a solid talent for writing powerful chord-progressions, tasteful melodies and engaging bursts of post-rock dynamics-gone-doom. The first track, “When We Emerged” starts of acoustic, boasting a improvised feel to the plucking, before settling in a melodic pattern. That pattern is continued when the band, plus loads of distortion kicks into a solid groove, to breathtaking results. To this point, the high hopes were all answered with fierce compositional prowess, and the following 30 minutes seemed to be a joyful ride.

A surfy guitar entered, layering an additional sense of grandiosity, and it all swirled into a short lead before the power was cut once more. The silent strumming built on my interest for what would happen next, and when the silence ended, I was amazed. The following verse hit like a truck, with all its doomy, funereal heaviness, and a shrieking vocal desperation filled all my needs for what a funeral record should be. Following the crushing snail-bulldozer was a catchy chord-progression, and everything sounded the way I was told, but after nine minutes of really solid experimental doom, a bland sequence hit the speaker. Unfortunately, the last five minutes tested my patience with anonymous, nearly useless parts of half-baked ideas, and my fuel was heavily burned out on trying to understand the greatness I was promised by the first nine minutes of the song.

With my fan-boyism severely reduced, I hit the play button, starting of the second stroll, “A Horse Of Our Own”. Despite a promising and hard-hitting intro, a non-contributing and lacking solo further lets down the potential of the band, and after five minutes of manageable material, another dragging, acoustic/ solo-part destroys the momentum. I must say, the solos of Samothrace are really a hit and miss-thing, some times striking a golden ore, but most of the time creating a way for the attention to escape the forcefield of the listenable parts of the compositions. Considering the second track was the longer one of the two, I was brutally struck down when I found out that half of the song was made of the kind I stated above.

The acoustic soloing is just so hypnotisingly confusing. With the band showing so much potential when it comes to making actual riffs and and immense soundscapes, why do they feel the need to poison the songs with such life-draining mediocrity? I see how people might actually enjoy these parts, but being a guitarist myself, I can just hear that there is nothing really solid about the soloing. The parts drags, adding nothing to the overall brew, and though some might disagree, I find that the sleepy pondering totally hammers down the listening experience, damaging the quality of the record badly.

So my anticipation and preconceptions were proved wrong after several listens, and trust me, I listened to this record countless times, trying to figure out why you people regard it so highly. Before I put forth the score, let me just say that the parts that really work, REALLY work, and that an album featuring all the right Samothrace-elements might be a stunning list-topper if it ever surfaces. The first track is filled with exciting quality despite the eventless last five minutes, but the second track is a mixture of uninspiring and plain boring parts, sprinkled with a few moments of unbeatable glory. It hurts to have to take away so many points from a record that contains plenty of wonderful moments, but because of the many parts I just didn’t enjoy listening to at all, I unfortunately have to. Please prove me wrong next time, Samothrace.

                  Recommended Track: When We Emerged

                  6.0/ 10.0

                  Fredrik Schjerve

 

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Comments
  1. Ryan says:

    I’ll agree that the guitar playing, mainly the solos, aren’t as technically advanced as other guitarists, however, I’d disagree with your overall point. I saw this album as being an exploration of subtleties — the guitar solos aren’t the main focus, the growling vocals aren’t overbearing, and the extended quiet parts only enhance the dynamics. But, I can definitely see where your opinion comes from. Overall, really interesting review! I enjoyed it!

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