Opening with ominous choral vocals and a steady stream of fuzz-filled feedback, the self titled debut release from Somnus Throne starts proper with second track ‘Sadomancer’, as a sample from Ken Russell’s 1971 horror classic The Devils warns the listener “Satan is ever ready to seduce us sensual delights”. And what delights they are; riffs as thick as stone walls, otherworldly wah-drenched licks and commanding mystical vocals all propelled along by a trudging rhythm section. Nobody is going to argue that the LA-based quartet are reinventing the wheel here, but that isn’t really the point. The band have clearly soaked up their influences (the long shadows of Black Sabbath, Sleep and Electric Wizard drape all over this album) all the while having managed to spew out an album of heavy, lengthy doom tracks that are all their own.
Following the hypnotic riffs and cruising rhythm of the Monolord-like ‘Sadomancer’, the pace is picked up slightly with the gentle bounce of ‘Shadow Heathen’, a track that doubles down on the atmospherics, with reverb-covered vocal passages echoing through the murk as some truly lovely guitar solos adorn the closing section of the track. The sinister ‘Receptor Antagonist’ continues with the hypnotic riffage but also includes an unexpected speedier passage with some propelling lead licks, recalling the likes of Motorhead and Kyuss, before settling into a closing groove. Final track ‘Aetheronaut’ is the longest here, clocking in at just under fifteen minutes. Opening with some disarmingly pretty acoustic picking, it soon descends into filthy riffage and some of the album’s most aggressive vocal passages.
So, is this debut album groundbreaking? No, but I very much doubt that was the intention, and nor does it need to be. Somnus Throne wear their influences on their sleeve but impress by having produced an effective and incredibly assured debut that pays homage to the history of heavy metal and doom, whilst at the same time feels firmly placed in 2020. Warmly produced and with riffs that truly get under the skin, this will be an album to return again and again.
Somnus Throne is released 9th October via Burning World Records and can be purchased here.
Words: Adam Pegg