SMOULDER – ‘VIOLENT CREED OF VENGEANCE’, album review

Fans of Epic Doom and Trad Metal alike, rejoice! Canadian Epic Doom band Smoulder unleash the long awaited follow up to their impressive debut album ‘Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring’.

The new album ‘Violent Creed of Vengeance’ refines the existing Smoulder sound but brings more elements of speed metal which was evident in the first single released, ‘The Talisman and the Blade’ brings to the forefront fast and furious melodic riffing which is complemented by Sarah’s soaring vocals. I must confess that upon first listen I was not the biggest fan of this track but felt the need to repeatedly listen to it to hone in on why I disliked it. It had since became my favourite Smoulder track ( an experience I shared with Sarah when she appeared on the Hornthrowers Podcast , much to her amusement). There are moments reminiscent of early Halloween or iron maiden, with guitar harmonies and genuinely great musicianship.

The most indulgently nerdy moments occurs in the intro to the song “Victims of Fate” which features a personalised reading from acclaimed fantasy author Michael Moorcock. This was a very pleasant surprise for me, being a fan of the Elric series. The song fittingly is about his concept of the ‘Eternal Champion’ which has provided lyrical inspiration for a number of Smoulder songs both on this album and on the previous one. It features an epic chorus and galloping iron maiden inspired riffs, it would be impossible for me to dislike this song. Sarah details the full story of how they got Moorcock onboard in the podcast.

The next standout track for me was ‘Spellforger’. I mentioned previously that ‘The Talisman and the Blade’ HAD become my favourite Smoulder track, that was before hearing ‘Spellforger’. It has a classic NWOBHM inspired intro riff and the song is strong but it’s the vocals that make it stand out for me. Speaking on our podcast Sarah spoke about the influence Blind Guardian had on this track:

I think that it is very Blind Guardian influenced ….[Spellforger] is just three minutes of anthemic singing… constantly going for it!

The album closer ‘Dragon Slayers Doom’ comes in at almost 9minutes in length. For those who worried from the singles that there wouldn’t be huge and grandiose moments of epic doom on the album, fear not! The song has enough evolution and moving pieces to warrant its lengthy runtime and up to its cathartic close takes the listener on a journey, Which is what these lengthier metal epics should do, right?’

To conclude I think that Violent Creed of Vengeance is a solid step forward for smoulder, refining and synthesising all the elements of classic and proto metal that have influenced them. They have further began to define their own sound and have produced one solid album which has excessive re-listen value.

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