From the beginning notes of “Echoes of the Earth,” it is obvious that Soothsayer are epic storytellers. The album is atmospheric Doom of the highest quality, with healthy portions of Sludge peppered throughout, and the band breaks musical barriers a plenty within just the first fifteen minutes. These two tracks, “Fringe” and “Outer Fringe,” establish Soothsayer’s ability to both experiment and stay true to basic Doom principles.
We hear muted howling, and a chorus of prayer over top of what sounds like chains hitting a cellar floor, or incense thuribles being swung by Franciscan Monks. Slowly building into a melodic chant, with swirling ethereal guitar passages eventually giving way to a downpour of churlish grandiosity. As ominous as it is auspicious, both intense and faint, this is Doom from another dimension!
There’s no telling if the atmosphere is breathable, but it is most certainly alluring… the way justifiable rage often is, when witnessed through the lens of creative expression. The vocals on “Outer Fringe” give the impression the narrator is both angry and afraid, asking for someone to save him while also believing such a request to be futile. A fascinating dynamic, to be sure, and one that bleeds well into the remaining tracks.
“War of the Doves,” again showing a mixture of pride and agony in the vocal department, is downright grimy. Thick with the dust of a bygone age, generational trauma, and the uncanny ability to express the unexplainable. An aesthetic that’s achieved with the help extraordinary guitar and bass work.
There seems a vast set of characters, each occupying their own space within the underworld, telling us war stories of Homeric proportions. Gods and demons. Men and Monsters. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos there are pockets of peace, but with violence exploding all around, bewilderment becomes communal.
Within the “Cities of Smoke” the ruins are covered in bodies and ash. Their ghosts summon “Six of Nothing” with the casting of spells. Hammering. Hypnotic. Easing the distress, Soothsayer makes quick work of taking the survivors to church. “True North” being the final destination, and possibly the most straightforward tune of the bunch. The previous songs warn of a storm on the horizon. “True North” is that storm, and it is glorious.
There is so much happening on this album, it’s difficult to say with any certainty if by using too many words I’ve helped lead us through an exercise in missing the point. As complex as this music is, it doesn’t go out of its way asking to be analyzed. You can either say a lot or relatively nothing, these songs are going to have the same impact.
You can get caught up in the layers and try to describe how that feels, or you can try to describe each layer on its own. Ultimately, a little bit of both is probably the key. Too much or too little of either would do the album an injustice. It is a brilliant piece of work. Full of passion and anger and triumph and terror. It’s a Doom record. It’s a Sludge record. It’s droning and spaced out. These guys mean what they say with every note and not a second is wasted on trivialities.
“Echoes of the Earth” is Soothsayer’s debut full-length. It releases this week via Transcending Obscurity Records.
Rating – 5/5