Atmosphere and atmospheric elements can be quite deceiving, can’t they? In the case of Corkonian Doom-Sludgers Soothsayer that can be seen but only at second glance. The band loves to incorporate a lot of field recordings that sound as if they were taken at some pre-Celtic, just-barely-human rituals on the vast fields overlooking the Corkonian coastline between Baltimore and Skibbereen. Want some examples? Shamanic chants, very simplistic beats on primitive drums, some vocal samples like a druid bewitching all those who listen not to miss a second of the following 51 minutes, the howling of wolves, the waving winds on those green tufts of marram grass, enriched with the salt from the sea and woven into the fabric of the people standing close to take part in the ritual or just to watch.
However, we all know that sometimes things like that can be deceiving and that behind the atmospheric curtain something much more sinister, much darker, much more threatening is lurking. On the other side, these atmospheric elements can also be used in order to hide a lack of song ideas, like an element of disguise in open field. Soothsayer has nothing to hide, they know how to write good songs and how to incorporate all these atmospheric things into a dark, heavy curtain of riffs and relevance.
These Corkonians develop a mesmerizing concoction of things. Take the opening duo of “Fringe” and “Outer Fringe”: The first one is slowly, very meditatively building and constructing images in front of the inner eye so that we are drawn to it. With the beginning of “Outer Fringe” the samples and ritualistic elements take a step towards the background and a mellow guitar-picked line takes over that quickly gives way for some catastrophically crushing riffs accompanied by galloping drums. At the end the song fades away into the same mediation that “Fringe” provided before, so it is clear that they know how to construct songs and records.
Another interesting fact about the record: The two longest tracks “Six of Nothing” and “True North” close the album, each with over ten minutes length, each a perfect mix of distortion and gloom, the latter often being there because of the awesome vocals, that are raspy, raw and reckonless but at the same time also intriguing and seeking attention without being fake. The band really knows how to give songs the appropriate length, none of these tracks feels too long or too pumped up; that is a very good quality in sludge bands, because often these bands tend to stretch their songs too long by adding another repetition or another round of swirling chaos. Soothsayer don’t do that, not even on their longer tracks, because they incorporate some other elements to give them variety – some of these can be field recordings, samples or raspy feedback elements.
This also explains the record title – we are witnessing echoes from times past. Musically and also vocally. The mere idea of these sounds also having been there before us explains the construction of album and songs so well, that it is hard to imagine otherwise.
A few days ago, MerchantsofAir had a review on Sepulcros from Portugal who also release their brilliant record on Transcending Obscurity soon; and just like Sepulcros, one MUST reckon with Soothsayer to take a spot on the global heavy music scene as there music is really like the best of several worlds – The Ruins of Beverast, Lisa Gerard as well as Lord Dying and Hymn. It is eerie and wavey, filled with melodies from ancient times and yet heavy, heavy, heavy. There is something lurking behind the ritual, some darker devil wanting to roam the earth and every second glance is worth the while.