Smoulder – “Dream Quest Ends” EP (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Already making a huge impression with their debut LP last year in “Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring”, this Canadian epic doom band bring the first chapter of their quest to a grand end in this 6 track EP, with a mixture of new 2 songs, 3 songs from their 2018 demo, along with a spectacular cover of Manilla Road’s ‘Cage Of Mirrors’! Mixing the rusty sword, syrup thick twin guitar sound of Shon Vincent and Colin Blake with the amazing vocals of Sarah Ann, whose power and soul could make her the metallic equivalent of Gracie Slick, Smoulder’s fast growing popularity is well deserved, taking this young band from their native Calgary to Chicago, where they recorded their album and then onto the ravenous true metal hordes across Europe, where their tales of high adventure have stretched from Germany’s Hammer Of Doom Festival to Greece’s Up The Hammers and Horns Up Festivals! While some bands may issue releases to mop up left over tracks, Smoulder actually seem to have saved their best until last on “Dream Quest Ends”, with the opening title track being nothing short of definitive epic metal glory! The guitar sound is incredible, ultra heavy and thick, resonating its epic power superbly while the medieval melodies add stirring warrior passion and elsewhere, a melancholic touch, both of which are guaranteed to melt your heart, especially when Sarah Ann’s equally flexing vocals add even more muscle and soul to make this an even more emotion experience – fantastic. Invoking the demons of Sabbath on ‘Warrior Witch Of Hell’, the main doom riff possesses you immediately – I’m tellin’ ya Tony Iommi would be proud – as it slithers and weaves its coils around you as Sarah Ann’s snaking and soaring tones, this time taking a somewhat more ominous approach, add the extra anxiety to the already bountiful amounts of drama already abundant here. Respectfully paying appropriate homage to Manilla Road leader Mark Shelton, who passed away in July 2018, the cover of ‘Cage Of Mirrors’ is nothing short of superb, sensibly not trying to copy but offer a ‘..more Smoulder-esque..’ mold to the original, which the band do amply, from those aforementioned twin guitars crunching out sword n sorcery riffola to soothing melodies and wailing melodies, atop which the crowning vocal capabilities of Sarah Ann, not to mention her feminine touch, add the final, wondrous element to this 8 minute + spectacular. Epic, it’s nothing short of epic.