Soothsayer - Echoes Of The Earth review

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Band: Soothsayer
Album: Echoes Of The Earth
Release date: April 2021

01. Fringe
02. Outer Fringe
03. War Of The Doves [feat. Eugene Robinson]
04. Cities Of Smoke
05. Six Of Nothing [feat. Paul Catten and Ralf Garcia]
06. True North [feat. Dave Ingram]

That glowing album artwork promises an incendiary listening experience, and Echoes Of The Earth delivers.

This album is the debut full-length from Irish sludge/doom act Soothsayer, coming several years after a pair of EPs. The album is described as "atmospheric doom/sludge metal" on its Bandcamp page, and the band set to work in creating this atmosphere early on with the lengthy introductory track "Fringe", during which repetitive chants, percussive clanging and eerie clean guitar gradually increase in volume. Committing six minutes at the beginning of your debut album to such an idea is a bold move; one has to have a lot of confidence that the track will create the intended atmosphere, and that the following music will offer pay-off for the build-up. Personally, I think a minute or two could've been shaved off of "Fringe"; mercifully, the subsequent five songs on Echoes Of The Earth offer some quite emphatic pay-off.

"Outer Fringe" doesn't immediately kick into action, with the build from "Fringe" slipping over into it; however, it's not long before listeners are greeted to some dense sludgy doom, with thick low-end riffs, eerie guitar leads and some infernal vocals from frontman Líam Hughes. Echoes Of The Earth features several guest vocalists, most notably David Ingram of Benediction fame, but Hughes is more than capable of delivering the necessary intensity by himself, whether uttering pained roars or volcanic growls. The tone of the instrumentation matches his voice, with the overall sound conjuring the sort of fiery landscape one would hope for based on the album artwork. Soothsayer pack a real punch with their murky, intense riffing that is spiced up with some slick sludgy guitar leads.

Further efforts to develop the atmospheric side of the record's sound occur during the opening minutes of "War Of The Doves", with moody clean guitar capped off with histrionic spoken word exclamations; like with "Fringe", I'm not entirely convinced by the effectiveness of this opening, but there's no denying the impact of the rampaging sludge when it eventually arrives. I've been trying to think of band comparisons I can make as reference points for Soothsayer's sound, and whilst Echoes Of The Earth doesn't have the black metal component of this band, I think Regarde Les Hommes Tomber's sludgier side runs quite close to Soothsayer's; the similarities in the vocal approaches don't hurt this comparison either. There's probably more obvious comparisons that I'm overlooking, but RLHT is the one that stands out most to me, so if the idea of a version of the French band with the sludge aspect of their sound dialed up sounds appealing (and it surely must), give "War Of The Doves" a listen; the chord progressions are evil and the force of the riffs is bludgeoning.

The album is rounded out with two lengthy beasts, and it is on these songs that the atmospheric side of Soothsayer's sound starts to click for me; the chanting that's employed works to the songs' benefit, as does the melodic guitar lead work on "Six Of Nothing", melody that adds some melancholia to an otherwise vicious listening experience. I hope the tone on "Six Of Nothing" is explored more on future efforts, as this track was definitely the highlight of Echoes Of The Earth for me - the way the guitar leads are used over an extended period and eventually combined with evocative chanting makes a huge impact. "True North" doesn't go down the same melancholic path, but brings in a different element, with a hint of pagan metal to some of the riffing featured here; the track also pushes the extreme side of Soothsayer's sound further than arguably any other track here. It does, however, end with a perhaps overly-long outro period, with several minutes of guitar sustain and voice samples testing the limits of listeners' patience after such a vicious affair.

Echoes Of The Earth is a really impressive first full-length album from Soothsayer; there's some room to work on the pacing of the album, particularly in relation to the more atmosphere-building sections bookending the record, and not every idea here clicked with me (the guitar leads that signal the end of the metal part of the album prior to that aforementioned outro section make for a slightly underwhelming conclusion to proceedings), but for the most part this is a really fine display of fiery sludge doom that makes a strong impression and also feels relatively distinctive. I'm looking forward to seeing where Soothsayer go next, but for now, get stuck in and feel the echoes of the earth.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 06.04.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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