As soon as “Ilian of Garathorm” comes crashing in, it is made immediately clear that Smoulder’s full-length debut album Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring is epic doom metal of the grandest, battle-hardy order. Pounding riffs and blunt drumming set up a rock-solid mid-tempo foundation, the weaving guitar leads serve as sweeping fanfare, and sly yet commanding vocals invoke the Eternal Champion (The Michael Moorcock figure, not the band). “The Sword Woman” follows it up with similar pacing, showcasing a band that has risen to the challenge of living up to the hype that came from their 2018 demo of the same name.
Of course, the band has more up their sleeve than exercises of glacial slowness. “Bastard Steel” serves up what initially appears to be another drawn-out introduction before giving way to a relentlessly blazing chug that wouldn’t be too out of place on Manowar’s Sign of the Hammer. From there, “Voyage of the Sunchaser” allows for a more melodic presence to go along with its speed. Even when “Shadowy Sisterhood” and “Black God’s Kiss” return to sluggish pastures, aggressive traces can still be felt in the muscular drum work.
Through it all, the musicians do a stellar job of exerting as much power as possible. Female vocalists are a rarity in this sausage festy corner of doom, but they would draw attention regardless thanks to their charisma and conviction. The guitar is as bludgeoning as one would expect, the drumming gives everything extra oomph, and the bass brings in plenty of intricate bubbling regardless of the tempo at hand.
Overall, Smoulder’s Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring isn’t the most original effort out there but its earnest songwriting and powerful performances are sure to endear it to fans of epic doom and traditional metal alike. Folks will likely be drawn in by the vocal performance, but everything is strong enough to live up to the hype. Hopefully, the band can reach greater heights moving forward, but this is a guaranteed win for fans of Candlemass, Solstice, and Cirith Ungol.
“Ilian of Garathorm”
“Black God’s Kiss”