Review by CoreyCritiques
Soothsayer – Echoes of the Earth
Atmospheric Doom/Sludge Metal from Ireland
Released April 9th, 2021
via Transcending Obscurity Records
Soothsayer are a Doom Metal band from Ireland that first came into existence back in 2013. They’ve released a handful of smaller releases but Echoes of the Earth is their first proper album. Let’s see what they’ve got in store…
The album opens with an ambient intro that includes some creepy sound effects while a deep baritone chants over and over “I am starting to burn out/Embers starting to burn out”. It’s mildly interesting but goes on for way too long. On repeated listens, this is the song I would skip the most. I think that this song could either have been shortened by about four minutes or eliminated altogether and tacked onto the first proper track of the album, “Outer Fringe”. I don’t have a problem with long ambient atmospheric tracks, but this song is just not very interesting or pleasing to the ear.
“Outer Fringe” starts off with some interesting chain-rattling samples thrown over some plodding guitars and bass. Then the drums and the vocals kick in and that shit gets heavy and Doomy real quick. The vocals are typical of a Sludge band; gravelly and hoarse. But to be honest, I wish the vocals were just a bit higher in the mix. The whole record has a very dense sound, and the vocals suffer for that. This whole track continues to plod and has a few cool guitar sections, fuzzy and grimy as fuck with the drummer providing some interesting sections as well. Not my favorite track on the album but still a good one. This is also the track that let me know that this wasn’t going to be a typical Doom Metal album. Not only are they incredibly focused on melody, but they show that they can crank up the speed a little bit, bringing a very headbangable quality to the song as it goes on. As the song ends, we hear them bring back the chanting from “Fringe”. Again though, this outro overstays its welcome.
Next up we have “War of the Doves”. We get some interesting higher-pitched, almost yelled vocals and some whisper-screams. What’s a whisper-scream? It’s that thing you do when you’re singing a metal song but you don’t want people to hear you. Anyways, this track is the standout song on the album for me. Not only does it have an incredible urgency to it, but the bass on this song is so goddamn thick and juicy. There’s a section right before everything kicks into gear where everything except the bass drops out and we get to hear Pavol Rosa’s skills. The dynamics in this song are really interesting and fun to listen to; I was never quite sure where it was going to go. There are at least three different vocal styles on here (and this makes sense as there are three different members listed with the Vocals credit on this album), and there’s a good mix of slow and fast sections, so definitely a highlight for me.
“Cities of Smoke” brings the intensity back down a bit with some melodic guitar work and even some clean guitar sections in there. That doesn’t mean it’s a boring song; it just doesn’t hit as hard as some of the other songs on the album. Vocally, we get some shouted gang vocals on here. Again, I wish these vocals were mixed better as I’m often catching buts and pieces of what’s being said. For Black Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore, and genres like that, I don’t expect to be able to hear the lyrics but I really feel that it’s more acceptable in Doom, especially when the painful, despairing emotional quality is so palpable. The guitars end up picking up the intensity near the end and start to gallop like a herd of wild Irish horses. Does Ireland have horses? I don’t care.
The final two tracks on the album are solid too. At this point, there’s not much more to say about these final two songs that hasn’t already been said about the previous four. They aren’t really doing anything that the other tracks aren’t doing. Overall, this album is a good but not great album. It’s bass-heavy and the band clearly has good musicianship and an ear for melody. They don’t necessarily bring anything new to the table but it’s enjoyable. If you’re looking for some meat’n’potatos Doom/Sludge with some good atmosphere, then this is it. The vocals aren’t quite as great as I want them to be, but you can definitely hear the pain in the vocals. If you’re looking for something that’s innovative and exciting, maybe this won’t be your thing. Either way, I encourage you to find out for yourself.