Smoulder’s debut album, Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring, was one of the breakout doom-metal releases of 2019. Critically acclaimed across the internet, it quickly sold out its initial run and is now on its third vinyl pressing. Thus, with the band in high demand, old-fashioned industry dynamics are coming into play in the form of this six-song EP, which takes the band’s (also sold out) The Sword Woman demo and adds two new songs, as well as a fairly faithful Manilla Road cover. But hey, at least Cruz del Sur isn’t demanding a new album every 6 months, like back in the 70’s?
And besides, this is still a pretty decent stopgap EP, clocking in at 37 minutes. The title track kicks things off with some solid power/doom riffage, with a chugging verse and some melodic guitar flourishes. Male and female vocals trade off amidst a mellower passage near the three-minute mark, before the song rides a steady, midtempo pace to the finish. “Warrior Witch of Hell” is more traditional doom, with a lumbering, lugubrious riff that reminds me of Orodruin or The Gates of Slumber. The chorus will get fists pumping and heads banging for sure – I would come back to this one more often than its predecessor.
“Cage of Mirrors” captures the same dynamic as the original, with its sparse, vocal-driven interludes leading into a twisting, true-metal gallop…although it boasts a cleaner, crisper production sound than the 1982 chestnut. As for the demo tracks, two of these three songs would appear on Times of Obscene Evil… with the exception being “The Queen is Gone,” a solid, if not spectacular, six-minute slice of chugging, soaring doom. Nothing wrong with that at all…
(Cruz del Sur)